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Start Salads For Overwintering

24th September 2018

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Although the height of summer is coming to an end and harvests may be reducing across the plot, now is the perfect time to make sure you get the most from your veg patch over the colder months. Sowing certain crops now will mean that your growing space continues to be productive over autumn and winter.

The main crops to sow are salads, as they will develop over autumn, providing you with a harvest during colder weather when other veg has finished producing. Sowing seeds directly outside may prove difficult as slugs could eat the tasty seedlings and frost may stop those left in their tracks. This is why it is really important to have some kind of winter protection in place to keep these crops safe. Use fleece or cloches if growing plants outside in the veg patch, or for greater protection grow under cover in polytunnels. A cold frame in a position of the garden that receives the sunshine is a great growing structure to keep winter salad safe from any extremes of weather. Those that face south are perfect, and products with a removable top allow you to create the ideal conditions no matter what weather you receive, be it unusually hot or cold! You could even consider using warm windowsills indoors to grow your crops.

Lamb’s lettuce is a popular salad choice and can be sown now. Choose an under cover structure to grow these leaves in over autumn and winter – a greenhouse is ideal. Sow seeds at a depth of 1cm in well-prepared soil, and seedlings can be thinned as they develop (enjoy these as additions to salads or garnishes on main meals). Other specimens can be left until mature and can be harvested when they have developed to a desirable size.

To cultivate leaves with a slightly greater flavour sensation, choose Oriental salads such as subtle peppery mizuna and mustard-hinted mibuna. The beauty of these leaves is that they can be sown in summer, spring, autumn and winter and harvested all year round! Outdoor sowings should be finished by August, but you can grow these tasty leaves under cover. Mizuna develops in rosettes and mibuna with feathery-shaped leaves. You should thin them as they grow to make sure there is sufficient room for specimens to develop to maturity.

Finish sowing rocket seeds in September at a depth of 0.5cm to 1cm in the soil and use cloches and fleece to protect crops growing outside. Alternatively, cultivate crops under cover in a greenhouse. Be careful not to overwater them as they grow, as this will negatively affect their health and can also influence taste.

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