Gardening Magazine

Getting Some Salads Started

By Mwillis
Every year, one of my raised beds is always devoted to salad-production. Salads are good crops to grow if space is limited, because if you choose the right plants you can pick a few leaves here and there over a long period - a very different proposition to cutting, say, a single cabbage, which is a one-off opportunity.
First into the Salads bed this year were some Radishes. Seen here are 3 x 1.2 meter rows of Sparkler, Saxa and Cherry Belle. There are three more rows next to them, but they haven't germinated yet. This is part of my "successional sowing" plan, aiming to spread the harvest over a significant period of time.
Getting some salads started
At the far end of the bed I have put in 9 Lettuce seedlings, 3 each of 3 different varieties, in the hope that they will mature at different times. They are "Cervanek", "Devin" and an unknown red one from a mixed pack.
Getting some salads started
I have spaced them about 8 inches apart (8-ish, that is), which is a bit on the close side. If you want big Lettuces, you should plant them further apart.
Getting some salads started
I have lots more Lettuces coming on, because I aim to have a steady succession of them throughout the Summer. Well, that's the plan, anyway.
In one part of the bed I have sown seeds for a patch of "cutting salad". By this I mean a mix of lettuces, endives, cress etc, which I will cut as Baby Leaf Salad. I threw in some "Ishikura" Spring Onions just for good measure.
Getting some salads started
My mix included part of this pack of Provençale Salad Mix, which was amongst  the selection of trial seeds kindly supplied to me by Marshalls. It is a blend of "assorted species" (details not given), which are said to be "...winter hardy, with a longer cropping period. A delicious mix which will crop into the winter especially given a little protection." Recommended sowing dates are from March to October. Judging by the picture on the pack and the shape of the seeds, I think the mix includes Rocket, Mustard and perhaps Pak Choi. Not really "Provençale" in my humble opinion!
Getting some salads started
Notice also the "Misticanza di Lattughe", which has been one of the best packs of seeds I have ever bought. I got it from Seeds of Italy. The pack had literally hundreds of seeds in it, and I have used it again and again. The Use By date on the pack is 12/2011, but the seeds are definitely still viable.
I have identified the area for the Baby Leaf Salad with a rectangle of metal rods, which you can see (left side) in the photo below. I will remove the rods once the seeds germinate. They are only markers.
Getting some salads started
As you can also see in that photo, I have covered the whole bed with a net suspended on a cage made from aluminum rods and "Build-a-ball" balls. This is to deter animals who might be tempted to dig up my precious plants. By the way, the two green clumps in the foreground are Parsley, grown from seeds sown last September, kept in a pot in the coldframe over the Winter, and transplanted a few days ago.

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