A Salad Selection To Plant Now For Autumn & Winter Picking
Jul 31 2023 Tom Stewart

A Salad Selection To Plant Now For Autumn & Winter Picking

As we approach August it’s an excellent time to sow some salad and vegetable crops for an Autumn or Winter harvest. Some gardeners might have harvested some crops already and have space to sow or plant up a new crop of some quick to harvest salads or some veg that takes a little longer to harvest. August can be a dry month for sowing and planting meaning that you’d have some extra watering tasks for newly planted crops but Mother Nature has supplied plenty of rain in recent weeks and it doesn’t look like there’s any major dry spell on the horizon so the water table will be well topped up and the soil nice and moist, this, along with some warm temperatures plants will get a great head start. One of the best salads to grow is Lettuce, easy to grow and much tastier, cheaper and planet friendly when you grow your own compared to buying a plastic bag of lettuce leaves in the shop. Lettuce is easy to grow in containers if you don’t have space in the ground and the cut and come again varieties are ready usually after 6 weeks and the varieties that form a head are ready about 10 weeks from sowing. The seeds are easy to grow or you can buy some pre planted trays of lettuce that will be ready even earlier with the seed sowing work already done for you. You can sow seed every couple of weeks and if you choose a few different varieties you’ll have a nice colourful mix in the salad bowl. When sowing seeds directly in the ground, sow them in nicely prepared ground and just barely cover them with a light sprinkling of compost or vermiculite as they like some sunlight to help with germinating. Watch out for slugs and snails using organic slug pellets where needed or some barrier methods to keep slugs at bay especially at the seedling stage. Some of the red leaved lettuce seem to be less prone to attack so consider adding some of them to the mix. This warm wet weather that we are experiencing at the moment can lead to downy mildew so to help prevent this keep the plants well spaced out to ensure good air movement. You can overwinter lettuce in greenhouses or polytunnels or cover them with cloches. There are lots of other salad leaf mixes to choose from - I like the range from Sutton Seeds called speedy veg which can be ready to harvest in around 4 or 5 weeks and are available in the likes of oriental mixes, spicy mix, Italian mixes and a stir fry mix, so lots to choose from and very easy to grow. Spinach is another crop to sow now and you’ll have a harvest in September or October. Sow some spinach directly into the ground, in fertile soil that’s not prone to drying out. You can harvest baby leaves for use in salads or mature leaves for use in soups and stews. Keep your spinach well watered to prevent them bolting or going to seed and cover them over with a cloche if you are keeping them over the Winter months. Treat it the same as you would lettuce in terms of pest and disease control - spacing out your plants for good air movement, using some organic slug control and don’t allow them to dry out. Perpetual Spinach is a good variety to grow for Summer and Autumn sowing and is not too prone to bolting. Another favorite of mine is Rocket, wild rocket sown in early August will provide you with a crop of fresh leaves before Winter, and then lie dormant until March, when it will put on new growth. Salad rocket stands the best chance of surviving frosts if sown in late August. It also offers more leaves in Winter than wild rocket, but can be prone to bolting in April. Rocket is a lovely spicy, peppery addition to a salad and you can grow it in containers also. Sow seeds every few weeks so you don’t have loads all at the one time, rather give yourself a regular fresh supply of leaves by successional sowing. A few other to consider are Japanese or Winter onions that can be sown from late August, corn salad leaves, and later on you can sow some Winter garlic

A few jobs for the week ahead;

  • Keep camellias and rhododendrons well watered through late summer while their flower buds are forming
  • If pots and containers have got a bit tired or untidy with recent wind and rain you can re-do them with some late Summer & Autumn planting schemes - consider some grasses, coleus, cyclamen, ornamental peppers and foliage plants like Angel wings
  • Deadhead roses to keep them flowering and looking tidy
  • Lawns can be given a straight feed of Osmo Pro 1 that’ll green them up without forcing growth and give you a nice healthy lawn
  • Cut back evergreen hedges like laurel and privet - make sure there’s no nesting birds present to avoid disturbing them
  • With warm and wet weather be vigilant for potato blight and spray if you get the opportunity to do so

Winter Veg