Salad Leaves

Salad Leaves

Lettuce and salad leaf mixtures are available from most suppliers. Easy to sow and grow, they provide a range of different leaves and flavours in single seed packet. Although seed for individual species such as Mizuna, Greek cress, Komatsuna, Rocket and Mustard are also available. Quick to mature, they are often grown as cut and come again leaves or as a catch crop.

Popular Varieties

Growing Conditions

Soil Type: Moist but well-drained, light soil or potting compost.

Conditions: Bright but cool open site.

Ease of Cultivation: Easy.

Type: Leafy Vegetable.

Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK.

When to Sow: Spring to early autumn, depending on variety.

Harvest Season: From late summer into winter, depending on variety.

Planting and Growing Salad Leaves

Preparation

Most salad leaves prefer a sunny open site but they will tollerate light shade. They dislike hot midday sun and dry conditions. Any good moderately fertile, garden soil will do. They also do well under cover, such as a large pot on the kitchen windowsill.

When to Sow

Seeds can be direct sown from spring to late summer and into early autumn, depending on variety. They are fast to mature and can be repeat sown every few weeks for a successive harvests.

For "cut and come again" mixes, sow a small patch in a convenient container of compost and leave it to grow. They should mature around eight weeks or less, depending on weather and variety sown.

Salad leaves make an ideal catch crop on the vegetable plot. Sow them thinly, in rows, between other slow maturing crops.

Taking Care of Salad Leaves

Water well and do not let the soil dry out. Apply a liquid feed every few weeks.

Protect over-wintering varieties with cloches.

Weed control can be a difficult problem when grow in the ground, where weeding by hand is the only real option. If weeds are a big problem, try broadcast sowing in a block to exclude more light.

Pests and Diseases

Most salad leaves are fast growing and generally trouble free.

Lettuce leaves can be badly affected by greenfly in spring and summer. If so, simply wash them off. Slugs and snails may also be a problem, so use a slug control early on.

Rocket and cabbage leaves (like pak choi) are renowned for attracting flea beetles, which create unsightly little holes in the leaves. They can be controlled with an organic insecticide or white sticky traps.

Harvesting Salad Leaves

Harvesting is a simple matter of picking the leaves or lifting the plants as required.

Cut and come again mixes can be simply harvested with pair of sharp scissors, cutting off the leaves an inch or so above the soil, creating a ready made mixed salad. The plants should then be left to regrow, producing a further crop.

Popular Varieties

There is a wide range of varieties available, mostly in seed form. These include Beet, Pak Choi, Choy Sum, Mizuna, Greek cress, Komatsuna, Rocket, Red Mustard, Mustard Greens, Red Russian Kale, Chinese Cabbage, Landcress, Lambs Lettuce, Mixed Lettuce and many more. All are grown in a similar way, which enables producers to ranges of mixed seed.

Beet 'Bull's Blood' the almost crimson colour makes an attractive baby leaf salad and also an attractive addition to the flower garden. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Salad Leaves 'Beet Bulls Blood Soldier' produces intense scarlet leaves and stems. Thompson & Morgan.

Salad Baby Leaf is a popular salad mixture, with plenty of variations in various flavours. Available at Marshalls, Gardening Direct.

Salad Leaves 'Bright and Spicy' a well balanced mix of salad greens and leaves with contrasting flavours. Seeds include Pak Choy Golden Yellow, Choy Sum and Mizuna, Greek cress and mustard Red Frills. Available at Marshalls, Thompson & Morgan.

Salad Leaves 'Cut 'n' Come Again' a quick growing salad leaf mixture, ideal for sowing in containers outdoors throughout the summer, and indoors on a windowsill during the winter. Seed mixture includes: Mizuna, Salad Rocket, Red Mustard, Pak Choi, Red Russian Kale, Golden Yellow Chinese Cabbage. Thompson & Morgan.

Salad Leaves 'Express Mix' a quick-growing combination of flavoursome fast maturing salad leaves. Height and spread: 6in (15cm). Available at Van Meuwen.

Salad Leaves 'French Mix' an blend of leaves that adds a flavour of summer. Ready to harvest in around five weeks. Height and spread: 6in (15cm). Available at Van Meuwen.

Salad Leaves 'Four Colour Mizuna Mixed' an attractive mixture of Oriental greens that can be sown throughout the year. Thompson & Morgan.

Salad Leaves 'Mediterranean Mix' colourful mixed mediterranean salad varieties. Includes mizunas, mustards, rocket and Greek cress. Ready to harvest in four to five weeks. Height and spread: 6in (15cm). Available at Van Meuwen, Thompson & Morgan.

Salad Leaves 'Mesclun' Mixed a mix of lettuce varieties for mixed salads, sandwiches and garnish. Thompson & Morgan.

Salad Leaves 'Oriental Mix' a tasty blend of oriental inspired leaves, ideal for salads and stir fries. Providing crunch and mild flavour. Height and spread: 15cm (6). Available at Van Meuwen.

Salad Leaves 'Spicy Mix' a brightly coloured mix or salad leaves, with a crunchy texture, mild flavours and a hint of spice from Greek Cress. Height and spread: 15cm (6). Available at Van Meuwen.

Salad Leaves 'Nice 'n' Spicy' Mixed this spicy blend provides a tasty alternative to normal salad leaves. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Salad Provencale Mix is a delicious winter hardy blend of tasty leaves. The seed mix includes: Pak Choi, Shanghai Green, Rocket, Mizuna, Mustard and Komatsuna. Available at Marshalls.

Salad Leaves 'Speedy' produces a mixed blend of tastes, textures, colours and leaf shapes, in around 25 days. Quickest during summer but can be sown all year indoors. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Salad Leaves 'Stir Fry Mixed' add colours, tastes and textures to your stir fries, mixed salads, sandwiches and garnishes, or as a steamed or microwaved vegetable. Sow seeds regularly all the year round. Ideal in containers on the patio. Harvest in under 30 days during summer months. Seeds include: Mizuna, Canton Pak Choy, Red Mustard, Texsel Greens, Cavolo Nero. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Salad Leaves 'The Good Life Mix' a mix of four 'winter greens' that can be sown as 'salad leaves' but are best module raised and transplanted for full sized plants. Perfect for sowing in an unheated greenhouse. Provides a good source of steamed vegetables throughout the winter months. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

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