How to grow winter salad

Do it:

Sep

Takes just:

one hour

Plenty of salad crops can grow outside in winter, if given a little protection. In early autumn, the soil is still warm enough to sow seeds direct, while plug plants or seedlings planted out will establish quickly.

Choose hardy varieties of your favourite salad leaves, or experiment with more unusual crops such as winter purslane and salad burnet. One of the most reliable winter leaf crops is corn salad, or lamb's lettuce, Valerianella locusta.

Grow plants in a sheltered, sunny spot, to protect them from cold winter winds. Ensure the soil is free-draining, as plants can freeze if left standing in pools of icy water.

You will need

  • Plug plants, seedlings or seed of winter salad, including corn salad, land cress, lettuce, wild rocket and mustard
  • Trowel and fork
  • Watering can
  • Cloche

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In summer sow salads of winter purslane, lamb's lettuce, land cress and salad burnet in shallow rows or seed trays. When they are established in late summer to autumn, plant them out to encourage them to put on growth before winter sets in. Space them at 10cm intervals in rows 20cm apart, and water well. If you don't have seedlings to plant out, you can usually buy plug plants from garden centres and mail order companies.

For best results, cover plants with a sturdy cloche. The warmer temperature inside the cloche will encourage strong plant growth in autumn, and protect them from the worst of the weather in winter.

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