This is my first time joining in with VegPlotting’s 52 Week Salad Challenge – I’m glad Michelle decided to run it again this year, I was too busy moving last year to get involved. There is, somewhat unsurprisingly, not a lot to talk about. At the end of last August I decided to turn the rather odd bed that sits alongside the patio in the back garden into a salad bed. I sowed some oriental leaves, mustards, rocket and salad onions, and sat back to see what would happen – a lot of the seed was rather old. It flourished – as did the weeds – and by mid September I had started picking leaves from it. I’ve been picking leaves for sandwiches and the occasionaly stir fry ever since, though the golden Pak Choi bolted a few weeks ago and then it snowed.
Consequently I missed my opportunity to photograph the rather lovely yellow flowers when they were still vertical. I need to clear the plants out now, they will never stand up again after being buried under 6″ of the cold wet stuff.
Lots of the salad onions seem to have bitten the dust, and all the Tsoi Sum disappeared over night a couple of months ago, but the Mibuna and mustard leaves, while not plentiful, are still very tasty.
Likewise the red Pak Choi and the ever-faithful rocket, though I have cropped the rocket rather hard recently. Hopefully it will recover well if I give it some peace, I want to see how long I can keep it going.
One thing that really surprised me is that, despite having started to bolt, the red Pac Choi leaves are really tasty still.
My biggest experiment to date was sowing more golden Pak Choi and beetroot (Boltardy) in mid September. It germinated really quickly in the greenhouse, but then I neglected it. The poor plants just sat there in modules, root bound like geishas’ feet. Guilt and desperation led me to plant them out in the new raised beds, albeit covered in fleece. I figured I would see what happened.
I’m not sure what I expected to find, the beds had been buried so deeply in snow that you could barely see the outlines, but of course snow is insulating, and when I peeked, everyhting is growing away really well.
Best of all, the not-quite-germinated Pak Choi plant is – slowly – growing away. A true survivor. I’ll grab the occasional leaf for a salad, but really I want to leave these to see if they will grow large enough to use in a stir fry.
I love the look of the beetroot leaves, but they are too tough to eat, so I think I had better leave them and see what happens. You never know, I may get a really early beetroot crop.
The question is, what do I do now? My tiny propagator is full of shallots and peppers, but I am sorely tempted to try sowing some more salad leaves, mibuna and perhaps some of the winter lettuce I think I still have lurking somewhere. What do you think? Worth a go? Indoors on a sunny windowsill? I know germination and then growth will be slow, and it is not the Charles Dowding approved method, but I have definitely got the bug for being able to pick fresh leaves for my sandwiches in the middle of winter. Next year I want to try a planter or two in the conservatory, which gets almost as much light as the greenhouse but tends to be about 2C warmer thanks to the surrounding house walls. That way I won’t get rain running down my back when I nip outside to grab lunch on a wet day…
For more posts about trying to grow salads 52 weeks of the year check out VP’s blog, which has links to other experimenters.