Salads are among the easiest vegetables to grow. You can sow them in pots, troughs or in the ground when the weather warms up. I sow a few mixed salad seeds every month to make sure I have a succession of leaves all summer.
Sow a few seeds thinly in a pot or directly in the ground and cover them lightly with compost or soil. After a few weeks, they should sprout. As your plants grow, pick and eat the leaves when they are young. Graze little and often to maintain plant production. Make sure the soil or pot does not dry out.
Take a tip
It is worth pinching the tops of young bedding plants – fuchsias, pelargoniums, and cosmos are some of the favorites that respond well to this.
What we are looking for are well branched, bushy seedlings – if we don’t remove the tips of the plants they tend to get “long” and too tall for this time of year. Take a pair of scissors and remove the tip of the shoot and about two or three leaves.
Although it sounds harsh, all of the lower buds on the plant will then respond by bursting into new shoots. This leads to more leaves and then a lot more flowers for the summer. Remember to keep your bedding plants in a frost-free place until the end of May, once the risk of frost has disappeared.
Ginger in a jar
Our tastes and the type of food we grow change with food trends. This year, why not try some local ginger? It’s so easy to get a piece of ginger root in the fresh produce section of a supermarket. Take a small pot and fill it with peat-free compost.
Cut your piece of ginger to fit the pot (ideally 5 to 10 cm) and half-bury the root in the ground. Water well and place the pot on a sunny windowsill. In a few weeks, when a green sprout emerges, keep it well watered. Ginger likes warm, sunny places and by mid-June the plant can live outdoors. As the root grows, move it to a larger pot and you will have your own fresh ginger in the fall.
Tom Brown is Head Gardener at West Dean Gardens, West Sussex
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