As soon as the hottest days of summer are behind us you can look to growing a new seasons worth of salad plants, some of which can last right up until Xmas and - with a little protection - even over the first part of winter.

With air and soil temperatures perfect for germination you can start sowing many of the salads that you would have already started in the spring. Although it's too late for tomatoes, you will have at least a chance with one more sowing of spring onions, and beetroot, but your best choices will be radishes, baby leaf spinach, mesclun (a mix of small salad leaves popular around the Mediterranean), and the various lettuce varieties that are around today.

Their last sowing times are as follows, but given a mild winter you can continue sowing through into the following month.

Spring onions

Oriental Mustard
Lambs lettuce - also known as Corn Salad or Mache
Mizuna Kyoto - oriental baby leaf salad
Amaranthus - callaloo
Mesclun- a mix of small salad leaves popular around the Mediterranean

Lettuce lollo bionda and lollo rossa
Mustard spinach
Spinach oriental

To stretch your cropping times even further you can consider sowing into raised beds for improved drainage if you area is prone to wet autumns and winters. And for even better winter protection against frost and cold winds you can add a 'Dutch light' style covering as seen in the above photo - made from reclaimed pallet wood and UV stabilised plastic - to help protect your salads against early frosts and cold winds. 

By using these different growing techniques you can push your cropping times even later by a further 4 or even 6 weeks.

When there is little else to pick from in the allotment or kitchen garden, this is a fantastic way to gain a valuable supply fresh, home- grown produce, which is a true gift when compared the the limp and rather tasteless imported imitations that are on display in your local supermarket. What is more important is that you know the full history of how your food was grown.


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