How to grow your own salad leaves

One of the pleasures of growing salad leaves and soft herbs is that they pop up again and again as if by magic… Toss them into summer dishes for unbeatable flavour

How to grow your own salad leaves

Getting started

  • Sowing little and often is key. Sow a few seeds of each variety every few weeks to ensure a regular supply.
  • Leaves can be ready to pick 4-6 weeks after sowing.
  • Many salad varieties, such as rocket, can continue to be sown and grown outside until autumn.
  • Grow leafy herbs such as basil and coriander in pots on a warm, bright windowsill almost all year round.

Getting more from your crops:

  • Enjoy baby leaves of beetroot ‘Cardeal’ in salads, but leave some plants unpicked to grow into small beets.
  • Pick baby leaves of swiss chard ‘Galaxy’ to add to salads, or leave to grow larger for using in stir fries.
  • Sow dense rows of spinach ‘Trumpet’. When the seedlings are large enough to eat as baby leaves, pull up every other one, leaving the rest to enjoy later as more mature leaves.
  • Harvest young seedlings of spring onion ‘Guardsman’ and snip into salads like chives, or leave to develop their bulbs.

Speedy salad ideas

  • Crab, rocket and lemon salad
    Toss together rocket leaves, lemon segments, fresh white crabmeat, chopped fresh dill and finely sliced radishes. Mix lemon zest, extra- virgin olive oil and seasoning, then pour over.
  • Baby leaf salad with crispy chorizo and soft boiled eggs
    Fry chorizo pieces until crisp, reserving the oil. Soft boil free-range eggs, cool under running water, peel and halve. Toss baby salad leaves and parsley leaves with the chorizo. Mix the chorizo oil, red wine vinegar and a little extra-virgin olive oil and use to dress the salad. Serve with basil leaves, toasted pine nuts and the eggs on top.

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