Speedy salads

by Adam Pasco

I hope I'm not getting impatient in my advancing years. When the latest seed catalogues arrived I determined to find out which were the quickest-growing salad crops.

Pots of mixed salad leavesI hope I’m not getting impatient in my advancing years. When the latest seed catalogues arrived I was determined to find out which were the quickest-growing salad crops.

Gardening isn’t the best pursuit for anyone seeking instant gratification, and I’m not usually an impatient gardener. I know that some things are worth waiting for. But some of the salad varieties in the new catalogues are said to be ready for picking within four weeks, and this is certainly an appealing idea. But which varieties will deliver a big enough yield in 30 days? Well, there’s cress, amaranthus and rocket, together with an increasing number of themed salad leaf mixtures.

I’ll certainly be carrying out my own seed trials next year to establish which are the most productive. The photograph featured here was taken last summer during my visit to the Mr Fothergill’s trial ground, and show mizuna, pak choi and other salad leaves.

Salad leaves are some of the easiest crops to grow from seed in pots: just fill a pot with compost, sprinkle on a few seeds, cover and water. Within weeks there will be delicious, fresh leaves, ready for picking.

Many crops can be grown in pots, making them perfect for tiny gardens. It pays to start by filling your limited space with the crops you enjoy the most before experimenting with others. We eat a lot of fresh salads in our house, so growing these saves us a great deal of money. With a little planning we can be self-sufficient for five months of the year, but I’d love to extend this period further.

All this has got me thinking about a lovely system of categorising vegetables coined by Joy Larkcom in one of her books on growing salad. She gave every crop a Value For Space rating, or VSR ... but I think this is a topic for another time.

I wonder which crops other gardeners would recommend for speedy results. Perhaps we should institute an award for Britain’s Quickest Crop.

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Gardeners' World Web User 07/02/2009 at 13:22

can you grow fast crops on a kitchen window sill,will they get enough light

Gardeners' World Web User 09/02/2009 at 10:31

Yes, they can be grown on pots on a bright windowsill, but do need good light. Turn the pots daily to keep growth upright, and prevent seedlings bending towards the light. You may not have watched the late Geoff Hamilton on Gardeners' World raise seedlings on his windowsill. He made a reflector using kitchen foil on a piece of card and placed this behind the pots to reflect light back onto the seedlings from behind. This could be helpful. Both herbs, like coriander/parsley/basi;, and salads can be grown in pots.

Gardeners' World Web User 18/01/2011 at 20:05

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Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:37

I sow my cut and cut again salad leaves in seed trays, they are so easy to grow and so tasty, some seed companys have some seeds that are very quick to germinate and grow so its easy to start another tray as the first comes to an end . Last year i managed to get 6 re-grows on my cut and come again leaves