Now is the time to stock up salads to enjoy by the bowlful all summer. You can sow salads all through the year, right up till October giving you a continuous supply of delicious fresh-picked leaves.
You don’t have to stick to lettuces, either: on our seed racks here in Youghal as well as dozens of delicious lettuce varieties you’ll find unusual leaves like claytonia and purslane, plus oriental salads like mizuna and mibuna. Add baby-leaf chard and baby kale, annual leafy herbs like coriander or mint, and some larger salad ingredients like radishes or spring onions and you’ll be spoilt for choice!
These are fast-growing veg so you’ll be picking your first harvests in about eight to 10 weeks’ time. Avoid a glut by sowing little and often, every three to four weeks, and only a small quantity at a time (half a row is plenty).
You can give your home-grown salad bar a kick start right now by picking up a few strips of salad plug plant veg from the garden centre to drop straight into the garden. Sow a second batch alongside right now to take up the reins after they’ve finished; a third batch in three or four weeks will keep the supply coming into late summer.
Salads grow well in containers, too; just sow direct into the compost. If you get a group of three roomy containers you can sow one container each month, pick the first and then resow just as you’re starting to pick the second potful to get the same continuous supply.
Another brilliant technique for growing a huge variety of salads is square foot gardening. Divide your veg bed into equal squares and sow different a salad ingredient into each square. Then pick your own mixed salad every evening, fresh and crisp, to enjoy with your supper. Now that’s luxury!