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Grow Your Own Salad Leaves

Summer has properly started, and there’s nothing better than having fresh salad leaves to cut for dinner.

No excuses for running out, and the flavours are so much better than anything you could buy from the supermarket.

The most common crop is lettuce but there are a host of other salad leaves: chicory, endive, sorrel, spinach, mizuna, mibuna, rocket and mustard.

They’re called cut-and-come-again. Simply keep cutting immature leaves and more re-grow!

Here’s how:

Grow salad leaves in full sun, making sure the soil is well-drained.

They are particularly well suited to growing in containers or growbags. Ensure whatever you use has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent the soil getting flooded. You can also sow salad leaves in the garden straight into the beds.

Sow outdoors from mid-spring to late summer, putting the different types of salad seed in rows. Sow thinly at 1cm (½in) deep.

You could also sprinkle a mixture of seed (most garden centres will sell packets of salad leaf mixes) lightly on the top of soil surface, then cover with about 1cm (½in) of compost.

Start to thin out some seedlings as the seed grows by removing with your thumb and forefinger to give more room for the plants to develop. Don’t let the thinned-out seedlings go to waste – eat them now in salads!

You will usually be able to cut the salad leaves three or four times. This means that the secret to having salad leaves all summer long is to sow several times about a fortnight apart. That means that, once you finish with one crop, you can start on the next.

Even as we head into autumn, it’s worth knowing you can grow salad leaves on a windowsill all year round. Try mixing different leaves in seed trays. Oriental varieties are best for winter use. Grow in September and they’ll last you till March.


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