Sowing salad crops

by Pippa Greenwood

Like it or lump it, there isn't that wide a range of vegetables you can enjoy fresh from the garden at this time of year. So how about some oriental veg?

Salad cropsLike it or lump it, there isn't that wide a range of vegetables you can enjoy fresh from the garden at this time of year. So how about some oriental veg? Yes, I'm still enjoying parsnips, leeks, onions, garlic and radish. No spuds though, as those that managed to escape the dreaded potato blight were enthusiastically hoovered up by the family months ago ("they're so much nicer than the shop-bought potatoes").

But this year, having sown surplus seed from a Gardeners' World growing trial, I'm enjoying mizuna. The autumn sowings germinated amazingly well and the plants are much tougher (in terms of weather resistance, not texture!) than I had anticipated. I kept them covered with some of those brilliant fleece-covered, pull-out mini tunnels. Lo and behold, they're still there - growing a tad in the warmer intervals, but most importantly, putting up with the extraordinary weather thrown at them.

Mizuna is great in salads and even better in stir fries, when combined with some of the still-very-juicy, home-grown garlic. Good value and it's always nice to have a bit of seriously fresh greenery. And despite the fact that it is technically a brassica - Brassica rapa var. nipposinica - it certainly doesn't seem like a brassica in my mind.

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Gardeners' World Web User 26/02/2008 at 13:07

There are several very intersting books on the subject of moon-planting or lunar gardening, it is soemthing wholeheartedly done by authors such as Nick Kollerstrom, but of course as the dates v phases cary each year you need to buy the book annually. It is certainly worth a try and many swear by it.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/02/2008 at 13:36

I am a manager of supported housing for people with mental health issues and we would like to start a vege patch out the back of the property. We really do not know where to start e.g. what veges do we plant at what times of the year? The garden will be ready to sow this week, and we would like to get the seeds/seedlings within the next week or so. The service users are very much looking forward to getting involved, but we need a starting poit. Hope you can help?

Gardeners' World Web User 28/02/2008 at 21:15

Things to plant now are broad beans and peas (but not mangetout yet). Also beetroot, parsnip and early carrot varieties can go in now. Shallots, onions sets and garlic can go in now (last chance now for garlic as normally they go in in the spring). Dig a trench and fill it with newspaper torn up, and veg peelings and then cover over ready for runner bean plants to be planted when the frost has gone (end of may roughly depending on where you are in the country) another one for after the frost but easy is courgette plants, big seed, easy to grow lots of veg.

Tomatoes need sowing now indoors ready for later and salad crops easy for a bit later. If you want easy fruit then think of strawberries and rhubarb? Hope this helps but I am sure someone else will give you some ideas as well...

Gardeners' World Web User 29/02/2008 at 17:50

I would highly recommend growing oriental vegetables. They are all 'cut and come again', and the flavour is good.

I grow mine in potato bags next to the wall of the house, which I assume provides some degree of protection. Even so they are still growing and cropping well, and despite the freezing temperatures of a couple of weeks ago they look better than ever.

Has anyone tried shungiku, otherwise known as spring chrysanthemum? I think it has a fantastic flavour and it is my favourite salad leaf. It seems to grow whatever the weather, summer or winter. I have been told by someone else that it is a bit like marmite, you either love it or hate it!

Gardeners' World Web User 20/03/2008 at 11:33

This may appear to be a silly question but I do not know the answer. Are red / green and yellow peppers from different seed stock and can I use the lovely big seeds from a supermarket bought sweet pepper to sow.

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