Salad leaves in a bowl

Often people begin growing their own fruit and veg due to disappointment at what is available from local supermarkets. Never is this more true than with the humble salad green. Supermarket salad is often overly packaged (and occasionally a bit sweaty), it has a poor shelf life and is less flavourful than one would hope. This leaves people looking longingly to their outdoor spaces, drawn in by the idea of fresh greens all summer long. You can have salads well past their usual season with one of our Hobby Plus Easy Build Polytunnels

Salad greens are normally very easy to grow from seed, they produce loads of crops and if you get the right mix of varieties, you can enjoy fresh and tasty salads all summer. So what should you be adding to your salad bed?

 

Rocket

Bowl of Rocket Leaves

If you want a bit of bite in your salad then rocket is your guy. Shop bought rocket often has a milder flavour than homegrown so brace yourselves. The Rocket Astra variety is a British bred all-rounder. It has a distinctive peppery flavour and can be harvested 21 days from sowing so it is a perfect speed salad green.

Wild Rocket is slower growing with thinner leaves, but it also produces a huge amount and is tolerant to poor soil.

 

Mizuna

Mizuna Leaves

This vaguely spicy Japanese green is a fantastic padder in the salad greens. Mizuna is attractive, with glossy, serrated, dark green leaves and narrow white stalks, elevating the humble salad bowl. It's vigorous, adaptable and easy to grow in most soils. Mizuna greens have a mild mustard plant flavour. The usual sowing time, outside, is from early to late summer, but it can be sown in late spring or early summer, when it may have a tendency to bolt. Another alternative is to sow in early autumn, for transplanting undercover.

 

Mustard

Red Giant Mustard

Oriental mustard leaves add texture and colour to a salad and offer a near-constant supply of leaves through the harvesting season. Mustard seeds are absolutely chock full of different nutrients, though it is best to harvest when they are young and tender for use as salad greens. As the plants get older the leaves become more tough and bitter, these can be stir-fried but if caught young they make a delicious addition to a salad. 

The Red Giant variety has wide leaves and packs a punch in flavour, with a peppery taste that is almost akin to horseradish. For a milder mustard, plump for Red Frills, it is a much more delicate leaf and adds colour and texture to the bowl as well as a more gentle flavour. 

 

Watercress

Watercress Plant

Ignoring the name these can be grown in the garden soil as long as plenty of water is on offer. The dark leaves and slightly peppery flavour makes watercress a firm salad favourite, however, it is super versatile, making delicious soups or a cheese accompaniment. 

Watercress doesn’t have a huge amount of variety and a pack of seeds will set you back next to nothing, so it is the perfect plant to kick start your salads.

 

Image Credits: "Rucola Salad" by wuestenigel"Mizuna" by wikioticsIan"Red Giant Mustard" by VeggieGardeningTips"Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum (Nasturtium officinale)" by Matt Lavin