Seen at The Festival of the Tree

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

Friday, 25 April 2014

Salad Days: New Perennials, Winter Survivors and Early Flowers

This is my 'holding area' in the side garden of plants awaiting the right space up at the plot
New perennials

This year, I've decided to have more perennial salads in the garden/allotment. This is partly inspired by Martin Crawford's book which I reviewed last year and partly though donations I've had from Naomi.

I went to stay with her in early February and she kindly let me loose in her polytunnel to come away with some welsh onions (left), mitsuba aka Japanese parsley (the reddish leaves at the top) and Cardamine raphanifolia (the cressy looking plant on the right, which Naomi describes as 'totally bombproof'). She tells me the latter two came from Edulis if you're interested. I see they both like moist, shady areas, so I'll be locating them next to my wasabi* up at the allotment.

These were plonked in the pictured 'holding bed' at the side of our house awaiting space in one of the raised beds up at the allotment. Their transfer is imminent and whilst I've left them to bulk up ready for their new home over the past 3 months, there's been enough growth in our mild winter for us to nibble on a few leaves and deem them worthy for our salads.

I tried to grow some Agastache from seed last year and failed spectacularly, so I have some plugs on order. These perennials are earmarked for one of the terrace beds in the garden. They're a great plant for bees and their leaves are edible, so they'll be great for our salads too.

* = which has settled very nicely into its new home under the apple trees.

Winter survivors and early flowers

Despite the mild winter I've only just taken off the fleece and cloches from the allotment salads. It's been interesting to see what's fared well over the winter on the lettuce front. The more upstanding cos types like 'Lobjoits' and 'Intred' are very perky, but the looser leaves such as 'Marveille de Quatre Saison' and oak leafed varieties seem to have melted away.

This might be due to the winter wet and resultant lack of airing and it'll be interesting to see if the results are the same next winter. However, we still have plenty of leaves to tide us over until my recent sowings grow large enough for picking.


Another result of the mild winter is the much earlier than usual prevalance of flowers on the mustard, rocket and land cress plants as they've decided it's time to bolt. We're munching on these flowers in our salads as fast as we can, but the pictured rocket is far too prolific for us to stop its bid to make lots of seed. I see my Nepalese allotment neighbour has cut off all the flowering stems in her large bed of mustard, I think I may have to do the same.

How's your salad faring this month?

12 comments:

  1. My rocket is also flowering like mad, we eat quite a lot of the flowers, the bees love them and the smell is divine, so mine are not going anywhere. I tried Merveille de Quatre Saison for the first time last autumn overwintering them in the hot house, they are not my favourite, I prefer oakleaf lettuce but it does not want to germinate this year!
    I didn't know Agastache leaves are edible, if mine grow well we'll have to try it out.

    Helen

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    1. agastache's edible properties is a recent discovery for me too. Last year I was trying to grow them for the bees, this year it's for us too :-)

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  2. Lovely update likewise my greenhouse sowings have been used in David's packed lunches and on my crackers with cheese

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  3. How lovely to have a Nepalese allotment neighbour. I haven't got any salads yet, I'm determined to do better with them this year. I've got some pea shoots that are almost ready and I've put in some mustards. I've got some sorrel which has lasted well through the winter and that will be ready for picking soon. It's such a lovely citrussy flavour, I've planted some more as well.

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  4. Fascinating post. I'm going to bookmark this and come back to it when I have time to look in to all those interesting plants. I am munching flowers on my pak choice and wishing I had made parsley pesto about three weeks ago, there again, I have never seen parsley flowers...

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    Replies
    1. I think my parsley is about to flower - there's a few thicker and longer stem coming up

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  5. With a little garden and lots of slugs, ordinary salads are hard to grow in our garden. However, we have lovage which comes up every year. The leaves (celery flavour) are good in sandwiches. I have red-veined rocket which I originally sowed as a salad leaf but it's too bitter to use. I have mints and marjorum and parsley which we can toss into salads when we remember - I don't suppose they could count as salads too even though they are herbs?

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    Replies
    1. I use a lot of herbs in our salads Esther, so they most definitely count :-)

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  6. Oh some most interesting new additions to your salad crops VP. Hoping that my sister might fancy a trip to Edulis next time I visit her: ) I have not grown mitsuba but thought that the leaves were green. Does it change colour according to the time of year?

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    1. Most of the online pictures I've seen show mitsuba as a green plant Anna, so it's good to show a different form

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  7. It's great Cj - lately her husband has been there too so I've learning about the Ghurkas as well as village life in Nepal

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