Growing salads in winter is easy and such a delight! Especially when there is little else growing in the colder months. Plus you don’t even need a garden to grow these delicious greens. I grow mine in a cold greenhouse but a cool porch or windowsill will be great too. A few seeds sprinkled in some fresh new compost in containers and we can be off to a start!
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Varieties I am growing
The mixed winter greens, pak choi, perpetual spinach, chard, lettuce and rocket grew so well last winter as you can read in my February post, that they have made a comeback to my autumn sowing.
So building on that success, here are some top tips that I think you will find helpful!
Top tips for growing winter salads
Choose these wisely. Any clean container which has lots of holes at the bottom is great as this will allow the excess water to drain away easily. Seedlings and plants thrive when the compost is not water logged. Place a tray underneath to catch the excess water (or it will ruin your windowsill!)
I recycle the tubs that I buy my mushrooms in. Once cleaned, I pop a few holes with a pair of scissors in the bottom for good water drainage. I love their size and find them ideal for sowing and growing these greens in winter.
Great to recycle these tubs too as I find I can use them over and over again. Plus it saves them from ending up in landfill sites. I will also be collecting more of these tubs to transplant some of the seedlings.
One of the problems most new gardeners come across is the whole issue of watering. My tip for you is feel and watch.
Feel the compost – is it too wet to the touch, just moist or pretty dry. In a corner push your finger to a centimetre or so. If it feels dry, then water gently. If the compost is moist, then it’s fine.
Watch the seedlings – if they are looking vibrant and healthy then they do not need watering. If they start looking slightly wilted, feel the compost. You will need to water if the compost feels dry. However, if it feels moist refrain from watering as over watering will damage your plants.
Compost for growing winter salads
Use good quality multipurpose compost. I found this will help the seeds to germinate and support their growth too. I use fresh new compost that I buy for my autumn sowing as it will have the nutrients needed. Plus no bugs or disease carried over from the previous plantings.
Sowing the seeds
When you sow the seeds of mixed winter greens, pak choi and kale, do it ever so thinly. The seeds are so tiny that you may be deceived into sprinkling just a few more. I know I did this last year. You can of course pull the extra seedlings and eat them as micro-greens. It is however easier to work with less seedlings in the first place!
I hope all these tips will give you lots of tasty harvests as you start growing your winter salads this month, plus BBC Good Food has some tasty salad dressings that you can easily make at home!