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Posted by Rosemoor Garden on 20 Apr 2009 at 04:42 PM

I particularly like those bags of mixed salad leaves that you can get in the supermarkets. They often contain rocket and are tastier than the ordinary lettuce leaves but are rather expensive. So as an experiment we though that we would try to create a similar mix but with extra flavours.

Back in February I collected 2 mushroom boxes from the local greengrocer and lined them with fleece to keep the soil in and filled with ordinary potting compost.

The seeds were sown on the 10th Feb and given minimum of heat – just frost protection in the glasshouse. You could create similar conditions on a window sill.

The following cultivars were chosen and spaced 2 inches apart:

Lambs lettuce
Lettuce Rouge du Midi
Spinach Bordeaux
Cress Wrinkled Crinkled
Beetroot Bull’s Blood

Land Cress
Red Giant Mustard/Chinese Mustard Sheurifong Improved
Shingiku (Chop Suey Greens)
Sky Rocket

As you can see a number of Oriental Greens were used to give a hot mustard tang. Beetroot Bull’s Blood can also be grown for its leaves – tastes like Chard.

The seed used was old seed left over from last year. Most germinated in 4-5 days but some took longer i.e. Lambs lettuce, Cilantro and Beetroot Bull’s Blood up to 9-10 days.

Six weeks later (27/3/09) the trays are ready for their first picking.

The Lambs lettuce, Cilantro and Beetroot Bull’s Blood were slower to germinate and have grown more slowly so there was not much to pick - they were being swamped by their more vigorous neighbours. So next time I will sow these separately and grow on longer. Also the spacing was too close. It should be at least 3 inches and preferably between 4-6 inches.

Anyway the results are very encouraging from two trays I cut a large bag of mixed leaves with a wide range of flavours.

They should continue to crop for some time yet and at some point probably around mid-summer another sowing can be made. I see no reason why you could not harvest fresh salad leaves all the year round.

Garry Preston, Fruit & Vegetable Gardener


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