Saturday, 5 January 2013

First salad leaves are in!

Twitter is a marvellous thing.  Having spent the morning weeding and clearing, my head was full of plans for newly cleared spaces and the salad challenge had slipped several rungs down my to-do list.  A quick break for lunch and a check of my email whilst downing a cup of tea, revealed a tweet from JP @gardengazelle saying that he/she was going to take up the challenge as well.  This reminded me that I'm going to be organised this year!  So I duly fished out some seeds and dug out a container from the depths of the shed.

(Actually, having paced around the garden for a while this morning, I spotted that the central bed is already sprouting lots of Lambs Lettuce 'Elan' - not that I planned or planted it.  It has self seeded happily since I first sowed it about three years ago, and now is always one of the first things to appear in an early mild spell.  So, maybe I should count this as my first salad crop and ban supermarket purchases from here on in?)

I chose a tin trough for this  batch of salads, purely because it is a decent size and has a base narrow enough to fit on my porch windowsill.  I don't like sowing salads in small pots because they can't produce enough to feed my bunch of gaping-mouthed cuckoos - whatever I sow in has to be large enough sprout a decent serving-size.  Children's voracious munching of plant material is surely a testament to the taste of homegrown salad.

For this batch I used peat-reduced multipurpose compost and mixed it with some perlite and sharp sand to improve the drainage so that seedlings aren't stuck in damp, cold, clag.

Filled the bottom of the trough (which has drainage holes in it already) with bits of polystyrene packaging from our bountiful Christmas supply. 

Mixed a few pinches of seed together for my salad mix - 'Red Salad Bowl' lettuce is a fantastic cut and come again variety,  lamb's lettuce 'Elan' as it seems very happy in current conditions judging by my outdoor crop, and mustard 'Red Frills' just because I have envelopes full of seed waiting to be used up!

Sowed it on top of the compost quite thickly as I find that sowing generously for cut and come again salads doesn't seem to affect them greatly - you can thin them out by pulling some out entirely and eating them if they are too dense and germinate too well!  Covered the seeds lightly with fine compost and gently firmed it down before watering.

I even remembered to add a label so that I know when my deadline is for my next sowing.

I've put the trough on a tray in my porch, but have put a layer of grit sand in the tray so that the base of the trough doesn't sit in the cold and wet too much (have run out of coarse grit, so must add that to my next garden shopping trip).  Have covered it with a couple of propagator lids - not because I think it needs it, but just to keep the cats from sitting on my seedlings (again).



  1. Good idea re the lids - I have a wonderful picture of our Jess adding her approval to a small windowbox on the patio last year ;)

    1. Another boon of better weather for 2013 would be that the cats won't roost in my greenhouse in spring, killing off all my struggling plantlets!

  2. Haha, I had same sort of things with my cats in the past. But you are pretty early with sowing seeds. Coming week when I have house and garden for myself again, I shall hurry to put some early seeds in the soil too.

    1. I'll be interested to see how long it takes them to actually germinate - mild right now, but colder weather forecast from the end of next week.