Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Announcing The 52 Week Salad Challenge


This post proves procrastination can pay because it was borne out of idle pondering instead of writing my Christmas cards on Sunday. My thinking went thus:

I really should grow more of what we like to eat.

What do we eat all the time?

Salads. At least 4 days a week, that's what...

...and they're really expensive at this time of the year...

Why don't I grow more of them then?

a) Because I'm pants at successional sowing - I get to our summer holiday and never get going again

b) I'm not really making the best use of the resources I have - cold frames, cloches, windowsill growing kit, sprouting kit - what a waste!

c) I'm not making the best use of the techniques I know about either - forcing/blanching, microgreens, cut and come again, sprouting - why's that?

I wonder if I can grow salad leaves year round?

I'm bound to fail going by my past record :(


So I then tweeted the fateful tweet:

@Malvernmeet we eat salad at least 4x a week. I'm contemplating a 52 week salad growing challenge for the blog next year. Is it a goer?

An excited flurry of tweets ensued, which confirmed it is indeed a goer. So consider this my formal announcement, throwing down the gauntlet, girding up my loins for the travails ahead etc etc. Forget the Olympics, we gardeners need a challenge requiring much more stamina and staying power. Will you join me in the New Year for The 52 Week Salad Challenge?

I'll outline the details in my first post on the first Friday of the month i.e. January 6th.

See you there?

39 comments:

  1. Great idea, I'm in too. And it'll provide some great opportunity for foraged goods as well. Bring it on :)

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  2. Love the idea. Just occurred to me, would be interesting to see how different people from different parts of the country go with the challenge...

    Do we need to eat salad every day, or have enough to eat a couple of times a week, over 52 weeks?

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  3. I'd like to join in too. I have a shiny new polytunnel and a copy of Salad Leaves for All Seasons by Charles Dowding so I'm ready to go!

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  4. Ah I was just going to recommend "salad leaves for all seasons" and I see somebody else got there first :) I don't fancy my chances but I might join in a bit - can I modify it, so that I have to have something that is possible to eat every month?

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  5. Oh what fun VP - count me in but I will probably not last the course, says she reaching in the direction of the bookshelf :)

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  6. Hoooray! As Imndsaid on Twitter definitely count me in-the challenge is on:)))

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  7. will observe hopefully and collect ideas. My red sorrel has become the sole non-survivor of my salad garden. Nasturtiums and garlic chives are good for most of the year. You battle winter, mine just shrizzles away when the summer sun fires his death rays.

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  8. Will there be a minimum number of leaves per week? - given my erratic successional sowing I may find the exercise a struggle during winter :-)
    I agree about the summer holiday - it throws my timing all out too!

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  9. Sounds great, I'm in.

    Have you ever tried any of the oriental winter salads? Mibuna, serifon and green in snow are really tasty and very hardy.

    Only the snow has killed them off for me in the past, but if they were undercover...

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  10. What a great idea! I wish I could participate, but I right in the middle of renovating my veggie beds. Still I bet I learn alot!

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  11. Hi! I caught your challenge over on OrkneyFlowers latest post, so here I am! I'd love to do something like this, I moved house in August 2010, and am just about able to start paying proper attention to actually, you know, *growing* stuff.

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  12. count me in! Love salads too.

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  13. Yep, I'm in. Already doing it in fact: http://perrone.blogs.com/horticultural/2011/12/winter-salads-for-free.html

    The only thing you didn't mention that I am doing is eating a lot of foraged stuff - violet leaves and hairy bittercress are particularly good at the moment ....

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  14. I've already got started too. Had a few leaves of wild rocket (grown in pot by back door) to jazz up the lettuce last night and I started some beetroot, rocket, spinach and parsley seedlings in a heated propagator in late Nov/early Dec - now quite happy in unheated cloche outside...planted turnips in sept (bit slow off the mark)you know what, i should blog this myself.... Will get something up soon!

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  15. Emma - I hope so :)

    Carl - welcome! Great point re foraging - it's on the To Do and blog about lists. It'll be great to benefit from your knowledge, expertise and recipes :)

    Gwenfar - good point I must plot where everyone is to see how we're doing with geographic coverage. I read somewhere that day length is crucial for growing salads - 10 hours was mentioned, so this needs some further investigation re its validity and perhaps showing how to work out the growing period available...

    ... and no, you don't have to eat salad every day...

    PM - I don't have a polytunnel or greenhouse, so it would be great to have your experience of how much your polytunnel extends your growing period :)

    Lisa - I'm aiming not to be too prescriptive, especially as people have completely different resources, experience, preferences etc etc. The idea is for you to set the challenge for yourself over the 52 weeks - it would be great if you joined in!

    Petoskystone - good!

    Anna - I've set this up partly because I'm not expecting to last the course going by my track record. I'm hoping we'll help each other out in times of difficulty. If you grow something different or manage to extend your growing period, then I'll judge this challenge to be a success.

    Sara V - hurray!

    EE - of course the weather has an enormous part to play. Last year's winter would have stopped this challenge in its tracks if we were doing it then. Hope you find something new and interesting to try :)

    EG - no there won't be a minimum number of leaves per week. Hopefully by posting weekly it'll remind us all about sowing stuff and get us over that summer holiday hump!

    Jono - great! I've only tried Mibuna, so I'll add your other 2 suggestions to my must try list :)

    Kath - no problem! I'm sure you'll be able to pick things up when your veggie beds are ready. Would be great to get some perspectives from across the pond. I'm planning to use some images from when I visited a farmers' market in Seattle for at least one post, so stay tuned :)

    Jan - welcome! And great to have you on board - I'm counting on you for asking loads of questions we've forgotten need asking, so I can add them to the FAQs :)

    Zoe - yay! I seem to remember you sowing loads of different salad leaves previously...

    Jane - good to see you've been quietly getting on with it. I'll add your post to the first Mr Linky when it goes up, but in the meantime if anyone wants to read Jane's fab post, here's the direct link to it

    Naomi - fantastic - looking forward to reading your post :)

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  16. This would be a great addition to the many gardens we install... you got me thinking!

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  17. Nope. Couldn't do it. If I liked raw chard I could be eating some of its leaves now but after that . . . nice idea . . . wish I liked salad more than I do. Wouldn't it be brilliant if one could grow STRAWBERRIES all year round. That would be the thing . . . Could do with a bit of magic.

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  18. Tim - think away!

    Esther - I'd love year round strawberries too! But then I wonder if their deliciousness would wear off after a while...

    Gail - hurray! x

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  19. How fun! I'll be slow to start since here in Iowa USA, I only have redbor and curly blue kale to start but it makes for great Zuppa Toscana. This is the first time I've done something like this so is there a method to the madness? I have a blog: http://hoofprintsandpetals.blogspot.com but as you can see life gives me little time to post. How do I link to you or do I need to do that? Forgive the questions :). I've been wanting to do my own four season sustainability so this is the perfect start! ~Mindy

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  20. Sounds great to me here in Brittany. I'm definitely in, although I have not been a good succession sower up to now. I will endeavour to pay attention and this challenge should keep reminding me. Sandra
    http://livingin22.blogspot.com

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  21. Just realised I haven't officially thrown my hat into the ring :D

    consider it thrown (it's the battered brown one with the muddy rim)

    looking forward to this - it'll be a good one!

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  22. Mindy - hi and Welcome. I've tried to come over to you to answer your questions, but I can't access your profile. I hope you'll come back and see your answer here. I'm explaining how everything will work in my post this Friday. You can work things out over at your blog if you want, or simply leave a Comment about how you're getting on in the monthly get together Salad Days we'll be having. The first of these will be on January 27th. It'll be great to have your perspective from over the pond - I'm not familiar with the varieties you've mentioned, so you have lots to teach me too :)

    Brittanygirl - hello and welcome! It'll be great to have you joining in. It looks like we'll have a great geographical spread and therefore lots of different experiences to share :)

    TCG - fab. We can crack successional sowing together :)

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  23. I love this idea. Here in the Northwest we can grow many salad greens year round without protection. Planting these winter hardy greens has allowed my family to refrain from purchasing lettuce or greens since last June. I have been thoroughly impressed with how productive non lettuce salad greens can be.

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  24. Galen - welcome! That's great to know - just the encouragement we need :)

    I saw some fab salad mixes on sale at a farmers' market in Seattle last summer.

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  25. Hi Michelle,

    I'm in coz I'm already doing it. Last Autumn I decided to grow veg all year round and so far it has been a succes (it's been a rather mild winter so far). I love salads so I eat a lot of those per week and my chooks are very keen on them too so there's a lot of leaf munching going on at Bliss.

    XX Yolanda

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  26. Hi Yolanda - fantastic! Always glad to have you joining in :)

    I wish I'd started last Autumn. Still, by starting at the most difficult time of the year, things will get easier!

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  27. Hummm - I wonder if I could persuade Shedman to join in .....
    (wonders off to e-mail him a link your blog ...)

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  28. Fantastic idea. Like you my successional sowing isn't always as well planned as I'd like. I've managed to harvest rocket or CCA most weeks for the past six months but keeping it up every week is going to be a challenge. Does a winter slaw count as a salad?!

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  29. How did I miss this post?? From the Seattle area and I'm definitely in!

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  30. Hurray - the more the merrier!

    x

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  31. we have salad, parsley, lovely dark red beet tops here at common farm flowers (www.commonfarmflowers.com) - i have antique pea seed planted in the kitchen for pea shoots (if any of them shoot) and there's always the self seeded winter purslane which invades the raised beds in the flower garden and makes marvellous green manure when i've had enough of it. great idea this 52 week salad challenge. munch, crunch. love from georgiexxx

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    1. Great to have you joining in Georgie :) My pea shoots are just beginning to perk up no end - first harvest due soon...

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  32. Hello - we will be taking up your challenge here in the Chicago, Illinois area of the US. Although we have a bit of a delayed start, I am already dreaming of salads. Hubby gave me my first grow light for Christmas so I am half way there.

    Another thing I've been researching recently is the idea of foraging. We are in the suburbs but even in the urban areas there are many native herbs and greens that grow in the forest preserves (where chemical spraying is not allowed) and even along alleys and public walkways. I can't wait for spring!

    I am looking forward to the creativity that will no doubt come as we experiment with different greens, fruit/nut/seed additions and even the use of various vingears and oils in dressings.

    Wonderful idea!!!

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    1. Hi JulieAnn and welcome! Good to have someone else joining in from over the pond. There's a link on the Challenge's Page to a blogger in Idaho who's put together a comprehensive list of USA based resources as well as showing winter salad and leaf is possible in zone 5B.

      Lots of us are foraging over here too - it'll be good to compare notes :)

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  33. Only just discovered this brilliant idea. Yes - I'm in!

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