It’s not very impressive, is it?
I usually do a bit better with my winter salads than this sorry lot.
I’m a keen greenhouse gardener in winter: there’s nothing quite like sitting in a cosy frost-free greenhouse listening to the icy rain pattering on the roof. I particularly hate to see the greenhouse borders sitting empty when they could be growing all sorts of tasty things: greenhouses become mini-polytunnels in winter, keeping lots of leafy veg just that bit more protected to get them through the winter. As well as salad leaves, you can grow chard, radishes, overwintering spring onions and even things like turnip tops – another one on my must-try list.
Salad in the winter
Though admittedly salad leaves always look a bit raggedy and unhappy by about January, you can generally still count on a few leaves you can pick over and enjoy in sandwiches. But this year I’ve got the timing all wrong and I’ve completely kiboshed my usual winter harvest.
Timing is crucial when overwintering crops: sow your seed too early, and they’ve peaked by autumn and are long gone when the cold weather comes. Just right, and they’ll be at harvest stage just as the cold weather hits so that as long as you go easy on them, you can carry on picking all through winter (they’ll grow a bit more during warmer spells).
Sow too late, though, and though they’ll make it up above ground level, they’ll hunker down and shiver all winter long at seedling stage, which is no good at all. I sowed these in September, thinking I could count on an extra month or so of warm weather through October and that should be enough. How wrong can you be?
So, note to self: don’t sow salads past, say, mid-August in future. Though of course, as soon as I do that we’ll have the warmest winter since time began and they’ll all bolt in the balmy temperatures before Christmas.
Taking care of the veg-growing
Sometimes I think I’ve got a better chance of winning the lottery than growing my veg to perfection, what with increasingly impossible to predict weather plus the usual setbacks from slugs and domestic distractions.
Still, as so often with veg-growing, there’s a compensation: since the thaw set in my little baby plants have been positively basking in 12 degree temperatures as the sun hits the greenhouse, so they’ve just started perking up and putting out fresh new leaves. I reckon give it another month (and no more snow) and they’ll be well and truly off the starting blocks, which will mean
Looks like my lottery ticket is going to come in after all!