Growing Your Own Salad
How to grow one of the UK's favourite crops
Salads are one of our favourite crops.
One of the things we love most about them is that they grow very quickly, and if you have the right equipment you can grow them anywhere, no matter how little space you have.
Salad leaves love to be sown where they are going to grow-on and be harvested – making them perfect for growing in containers, planter bags, raised beds or large troughs, to name but a few. Sow the seeds little and often and cut the leaves rather than pulling up the whole plant and you can have fresh, home-grown salad leaves all year.
Each variety of salad leaf has a slightly different nutritional value so a combination of leaves helps maintain a healthy balanced diet.
Even if you have an allotment it is still worth growing a few mixed salad leaves at home, you are more likely to use them if they are too hand, especially as it only takes a few seconds to snip a few leaves when needed.
Where to grow
Salads can be sown throughout the year for a continued crop. They will grow equally well on a kitchen windowsill, in a greenhouse or mini greenhouse and more often in a cold frame or just out on a patio in special patio planters in a position with plenty of light.
Delicious salads can be grown equally well in all these places in virtually any container, the only real restriction is the space you have.
Salad varieties to grow
Salad Bowl, all the major seed suppliers do salad leaf mixes.
Lettuce cabbage type or cos:
Little Gem, Winter Density, Tom Thumb, Cassandra, Arctic King
Medania, Toscane, LazioF1
Also consider Endive, Rocket and Lambs Lettuce to add dimension to your salad choices.
When growing from seed, mix the seeds with a little sharp sand to make them easier to handle.
Salad leaf varieties are best sown either directly into you chosen containers and pots or into cell trays for later transplantation.
Alternatively you may have seed tape which is a fantastically easy way to grow from seed, these can be laid out on the compost surface and covered with a light covering of compost and watered in.
For both salad and herbs ventilation and light are very important.
Ensure that seedlings emerge in a light space and that your final growing space is adequately lit.
In very moist weather make sure that vents on propagators are open and that if you are growing under glass that adequate ventilation is provided throughout the day (in greenhouses you can use automatic vent openers to achieve this) as the biggest threat to young salad leaves in these conditions is grey mould, a fungal disease which can quickly destroy a crop.
Salad crops such as 'cut and come again' lettuce can be harvested a little at a time to provide a continual supply.
Lettuce varieties which produce a head such as ‘Little Gem’ or ‘Webbs Wonderful’ can be sown in succession to give a continued harvest.