Sow salads for winter now and you’ll have plenty of delicious fresh greens to pick right through from autumn till spring.
There’s a host of cold-hardy salad ingredients which are able to grow quite happily even in watery winter sunlight, and are also resilient enough to put up with frost, snow and winter gales: just pop a cloche over the top during really bad weather to keep them in good condition. Winter salads are also a great way to make good use of your greenhouse borders through the coldest months of the year, refilling them with home-grown goodies to follow on from your summer crops. Sow them now in pots and modules and they’ll have just enough time to reach cropping size by the time the cold weather sets in.
Sow varieties known for cold tolerance to make sure they stay productive through whatever the weather can throw at them. Winter lettuces are a great choice, with 'Merveille de Quatre Saisons', 'Rouge d'Hiver' and 'Winter Density' among the best. Add a little variety with oriental vegetables such as mustard spinach and mizuna, and short day length leafy veg like corn salad, rocket and American land cress. You’ll find all these and more winter salads on our seed racks here in the garden centre at Colchester so pop in this week and pick out your favourites.
Fill seed trays or 5cm modules with seed compost, water well and then sow seed sparingly, covering lightly with vermiculite or more compost. Keep in a cold frame or on a bright windowsill and make sure they stay damp, and your seedlings should appear within 10 days. Grow them on, moving them into larger pots if necessary, and then once they’re healthy young plants you can plant them out in their final growing positions for a steady supply of fresh greenery from November onwards.