From Seed to Salad Bowl in Just Four Weeks
Here are the results of just four weeks’ growth in the salad factory:
The first tub contains the second sowing of pea shoots; not quite ready to harvest yet. But tubs two, three and four are in full swing: pea shoots and mixed leaves galore. There has to be at least three or four supermarket bags’ worth there, and the best thing is these leaves are cut-and-come-again, usually good for three or four pickings, so that’s a good two dozen or so portions from one packet (actually, several packets mixed together, enough for seven or eight trays’ worth) of seed.
Here’s a quick recap of the method:
1) Fill a plastic tray (or any other pot or container) about 2/3 of the way up with regular, general purpose compost.
2) Sprinkle mixed salad leaf seeds over the surface. Cover with another 1.5cm (just over half an inch) or so of compost and water well. Same applies to either dried peas or seed peas if you want to grow pea-shoots (and why wouldn’t you, they’re delicious!)
That’s pretty much it, apart from watering every couple of days (or daily in hot, dry spells) to make sure the compost stays moist. Within a couple of weeks germination should kick in and then a couple of weeks later you should have a lovely tray-full of fresh, spicy salad leaves.
It might take a little longer if you don’t have a greenhouse to grow in, but growing on a windowsill should give pretty good results (although you may need to turn the container around on a daily basis to stop the plants growing towards the light and developing a tower-of-Pisa angle). I wouldn’t advise growing the stuff outside, though, if only because it’s very difficult to spot the weed seedlings among the salad leaves.
When it comes to harvesting, I tend to just trim across with a pair of sharp scissors level with the top of the container. As long as you don’t pick the whole plant then fresh leaves will grow from trimmed stalks; which is why it’s important to leave that gap between the top of the compost and the top of the container when you sow. And of course by successionally sowing your salad tubs (starting a new one off every couple of weeks) you’re giving the first batch a chance to rest and re-grow while you harvest the second. Plus, if one tray becomes dry and the plants bolt (start flowering and putting out seed, which makes the leaves tough and bitter) then you can just ditch those and start over while you harvest from your second or third trays.
With a bit of advance planning, you can have fresh salad leaves all summer long and on into the Autumn.
See how ridiculously easy this GYO lark can be? Go, sow salad!
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