Grow your own winter salad How to grow winter salad
Winter salad basics
As soon as you've cleared the summer crops from your veg plot, remove any weeds and loosen the soil if it has become compacted during the warmer weather. Give it a good soaking too, if it's dry.
If the soil is reasonably weed-free, you can sow all the hardy salads directly into the ground – the soil should be warm, and if you water your seeds regularly, you should find that germination is quick.
Alternatively, you could do as we did and sow your seeds into modular trays, which are easier to keep watered and protected from pests. Plant out seedlings after 4-6 weeks, or as soon as they are large enough.
Once established, winter salads shouldn't need any additional watering during the late autumn and winter, and will not need to be fed.
Dealing with pests
Slugs and snails may become a nuisance in milder spells, so keep some slug pellets (Growing Success Advanced Slug Killer pellets are a good organic option) or barriers handy.
A sheet of garden fleece is a good investment (it should last for many years if treated carefully). Throw it over the crop if frosts are predicted. Fleece will help prevent pigeons eating the crop, too. A longer lasting, but slightly pricier alternative is plastic mesh such as our Best Buys Wondermesh or Enviromesh Ultra Fine.
Pick individual leaves from the outside of the plants, or whole plants as needed. Wash thoroughly to remove splashed soil.
To find out more about growing your own vegetables, including salad crops, see our book Growing Your Own Vegetables Made Easy.