About my garden

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Salad leaves all year round

It's been a few years since I realised that you shouldn't ever have to buy a bag of salad - if you were organised! Of course that is the problem. I've tried in fits and starts since then but never managed to grow salad all year round. 

Last year I started well in January and sprouted seeds in the kitchen before moving on to the greenhouse and garden. 
For various reasons I find it best to grow the seedlings in module trays and then plant them out when they fill the module. I use trays with 9 or 12 holes.
These have got a little leggy.
That way you can grow in small quantities and keep up a continuous flow of leaves but not a whole row of 24 lettuces all ready on one day and going to seed the next. 
This year I grew some spinach, rocket, salad leaves and radish in the greenhouse border before I put out the tomatoes.
Early May
They were just about to go to seed here when I pulled them up.Please ignore the bind weed in the background.
It was very successful and I wish I had started earlier and grown more. I also wish I had a record of when I sowed these things but again - I am not that organised. Some years I start a list of sowing dates but this year I didn't  even bother, I know I won't keep it up. Also every year is different. This year has been mild but last spring was very cold so I started things off a lot later and planted out later.
I have managed 3 lots of Little Gem so far. My aim would be to start of a tray every two or three weeks so I always have another lot coming along. We could probably use a trayful in two weeks in summer and it allows for a few casualties or some to give away. 
I have another trayful of something which I think is lettuce. Always label your seeds!
Early May
The first ones you can see are the larger ones. When I put the second lot out I put a cloche over without the ends to give a little protection. It was only there for a week or so. Behind the cloche is some spinach which has now gone to seed but I picked it a few times. It is a cool season crop so I'll sow some more in late summer. 

Late May
A few weeks later.

And now, with a few gaps where I have picked. There isn't always much difference in size as crops sown later grow faster but there first sowing are just ahead. 
I also sowed some mixed salad leaves. The first ones in the green house were good but the ones outide were plagued by flea beetles. I pulled them up in the end. I don't mind a few holes but there was hardly any leaf left. Also affected were the radishes. I have just sown some more under the fleece you can see in the background. I am hoping that might keep the worst of them off and give the radishes a chance to grow.
If anyone has any ideas on how to tackle them, I am very interested.
 Now I have had my coffee break, I'm off to tackle a compost heap with a fly problem. I'll let you know how I get on.

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