Keeping an eye on your winter salads

Thu, 15/12/2016 - 15:05 -- sow it sue
Winter Salads

I’m lucky to have a very small unheated greenhouse on my allotment. Usually over the winter months it gets used for nothing more than storage… not so this year.  Having cleared away all the summer crops, all those beautiful aubergines, toms and chilies seem a distance memory! In October I gave the beds a top up of compost and a feed with some chicken pellets and planted up a variety of hardy salad, rocket, mizuna, mustard green and winter lettuces.

Although growth slows during winter, I’m hoping for a steady picking of leaves, though they should really come good in about February. 

The main thing is to keep them healthy, ensuring good air circulation and making sure they have a good root system to see them through the winter.  The enemy when growing under cover is grey mould, which is caused by the fungus Botrytis cinerea which covers the plants with fuzzy grey mould and will kill them. It loves humid damp conditions. Now I’m one for packing as much in as possible to every inch, NOT the thing to do with plants undercover in winter, so I’m making sure I stick to the spacing given on the packet. Watering might be a challenge as murky, overcast weather and wet feet is not a healthy combo. A good bright sunny day when the soil is starting to dry out is best.  Here’s hoping we will have some of these during this winter!

I’m also going to try some pea shoots, I haven’t any room left in the greenhouse so I’ll being sowing these under a grow tunnel with a fleece or polythene cover.  These little beauties can be sown throughout the winter undercover and they are delicious, if you never tried them have a go, they taste just like peas.

No matter if you haven’t got a greenhouse, all winter salad crops can be grown outdoors with the help of a grow tunnel with a fleece or polythene cover even doubling them up if the weather is biting, all the same precautions apply though.