So I wanted to write a post about salad, because at this time of year my mind always turns to thoughts of eating a lighter kind of meal. The kind that I can throw together in minutes. When the weather is fine, I want to be out in it as much as I can. The colder, darker months are for standing and stirring by the stove. The lighter, warmer months are for impromtu barbecues, picnics or just a quick sandwich hastily packed before going to the beach.
It is very easy to grow your own salad just outside your own backdoor. You don't need a greenhouse. You just need some large pots and compost, possibly a grow bag and a sunny sheltered place. It doesn't have to be sunny all day either. As long as your crop has some sun it will do fine. Armed with these few necessities, you can grow salad leaves.
As well as being ridiculously easy to grow. They can take up very little space and can give you something to put in your sandwich, or have with your omelette, or as an accompaniment to your evening meal. I used to grow lettuce, but I always ended up with about twenty ripe lettuce to get through, and then none after that. But then I discovered the joy of the salad leaf. Those cut and come again varieties that I was buying by the bagful in the supermarket. I don't know why the light bulb didn't switch on earlier. But I live and learn in the garden.
The trick is to get a crop all summer long. To achieve this you need some packets of seeds. There is an infinite variety to choose from at the garden centre, and I like to buy several so that I have a good mixture of colour and taste. Next you will need three pots in which to grow your salad. The idea is that you want your salad to grow in stages, so that you always have a plentiful supply. So I plant up my first pot, and then my second about four weeks later and my third four weeks after that. It doesn't take long for the salad to grow, and you can cut as little or as much as you require. As the first pot is dwindling in supply, the second should be well on the way to being ready. You can repeat the process all through summer and well into Autumn.
What I love about this is that it is gardening at it's most productive. The crop couldn't be any fresher. It hasn't been sprayed with any nasty chemicals and it's travelled feet instead of miles to get to your plate. You can cut a few leaves for a sandwich, or a great handful for a salad. Last summer Olly really enjoyed picking the salad with me. He could be quite heavy handed, but the leaves are quite robust and could take some over enthusiastic plucking. Sometimes if the salad got too hot, it would start to bolt (set seed), but all I did was remove and start again. There was a new crop well on the way by that time.