Salad greens are one of the first crops that I start outdoors. It snowed today, but as soon as the soil is workable, I will be out there, seeds in hand, to get started. As with Seed Starting 101, I have created a permanent page that lists all of the best posts around the subject of growing (and eating) lettuce and salad greens. If you come back looking for it in the future, you will find it over here on the Resources page (link in the top bar).
The photo (above) depicts a winter salad mix that I grew in a big washbasin the last two years. It includes a really pretty burgundy mizuna variety called ‘Red Frills.’
I went to my local Italian grocer this week and chose seed packs for the contest. I tried to stick with varieties that winners can grow in a variety of conditions whether that’s location/climate, season, small spaces, big spaces, and containers. Some of these can be direct sown and some should be started indoors. Something for everyone!
Italian seed packets tend to be very generous and these are no exception. Each packet contains enough seed to sow a farm or share with several friends.
Below you’ll find write-ups on each variety that I chose. Many of these varieties have become available through companies that sell heirloom seed, but I still find that Spigarello is not commonly available. My local grocer didn’t sell it last year and I was so glad when they listened to my pleas and stocked it again for 2013.
There is still time to enter the contest but you must do so over here. Enjoy!
We’re hitting that magical time of the season when a growing portion of our meals are gleaned from the garden. I enjoy moving around the space, snipping bits of this and that from here and there. I have edibles tucked in everywhere. There are lettuce seedlings in every bed, except the dry one. They would not fair well there.
Yesterday’s lunch, a simple salad (Except the eggs. No chickens here. Le sigh. Oh, and the cheese.) came from the garden.
Here’s my process:
- Photo Top Left: ‘Four Seasons’ lettuce. This is the same lettuce that miraculously overwintered. I dug up the seedlings and planted them here and there.
- Photo Top Right: Harvesting assorted edible greens. These include: Two types of spinach, bloody dock, chive flowers, viola flowers, French Sorrel, pea shoots, curly parsley, violet leaves, another type of lettuce (I forget), curly cress, ‘Green Wave’ mustard, mizuna, ‘Red Frills’ mizuna, spring onion, lemon balm, mint, and borage seedlings. These are just a few examples of salad fixins you can grow.
- Photo Bottom Left: Easy dressing done right in the bowl. Just add your greens and toss. Olive oil, a dash of Balsamic vinegar, grated Parmesan cheese, chopped chive blossoms and parsley.
- Photo Bottom Right: And eat. With boiled eggs and asparagus. Enjoyed with a kefir milk smoothie.
Imagine my surprise when I pulled back the row cover at the back of my garden and found this pot full of living ‘Four Seasons’ lettuce that I had planted last fall and forgot about. It survived the winter!
I love these little mistakes that result in new discoveries. Yes, our winter was much milder than usual, but in the years that I’ve been growing the ‘Four Seasons’ variety, I had not expected it to live up to its name in my climate.
The container (an old bread box I inherited from Davin’s grandmother, with holes punched into the bottom) was twice sown last fall due to a squirrel invasion that I did not protect against. I have since transplanted several of these seedlings into raised beds and pots around the garden.
With the garden soil now workable, and unseasonably warm, I have also direct sown several lettuce varieties and greens around the garden. This has me thinking about all of the future salads we will be enjoying soon, making me realize that it was high time to pull together some of the lettuce and greens articles I have written here over the years to get you started on growing your future salads, too.
P.S. This week’s article on HGTV is up. It’s about reusing potting soil. I often use my old potting soil to grow salad greens. However, I am careful to add more nitrogen back into the depleted mix as leafy veggies need nitrogen to thrive.
P.S.S. I have added more ‘Hahms Gelbe Topftomate’ seeds to etsy.
It’s become a tradition and now that I live in an Italian neighbourhood it’s pretty much a requirement. When my local Italian greengrocer set out the seed rack I did a little happy dance, and it was then that I knew I was doomed to buy more seed than I will ever have room to grow.
Cucumber ‘Spuredda Leccese’ – While not technically a cucumber (Cucumis sativa), this Italian melon (Cucumis melo) from the Puglia region (Southern Italy) is eaten like one. I have seed for several Italian cucumber/melon varieties and am quite taken with them. The poorly translated product description was also a selling point. “It has to be harveste the unripe fruit and consumpted in salad.” It’s either going to be awesome in a salad or bring about the consumption — I like the promise of a little risk.
Arugula ‘Selvetica’ aka rucola selvatica (Diplotaxis tenuifolia) – This is my favourite arugula, hands down, and even though I have several packets from other companies, I can’t seem to stop buying it. Just in case! If The Apocalypse comes in 2012 I will not be without.
Onion ‘Tropea Rossa Tonda’ – I am partial to red onion varieties and am more likely to plant them than white. It’s the colour! This one has an interesting shape and matures to red. I’ve long since started my onion seed — these will go in the second sowing. I believe these may be a short day variety so I don’t know what kind of luck I will have with them; however, we have no shortage for scallion usage so I’d be okay if they never reach bulb size.