A wee blog on winter salad
Whilst salad is generally associated with the balmy days of summer (obviously not in the UK!) there are several salad plants which not only enjoy our winters but positively thrive on them.
|Poly in the snow.|
north of Brizzle. Here at Maddocks Farm we manage to organically produce year round salads using unheated polytunnels, outdoor beds and a very large pile of fleece.
When it comes to lettuce sometimes the clue is in the name. Lettuce called Arctic King, Winter Density or Marvel of 4 Seasons generally do what they says on the tin. I have found, even in Devon, that there is little point having lettuce outside the tunnels in winter if you are an organic grower. Lettuce will survive under fleece but will be ravaged by every slug/snail out wearing thermals and won't thrive until April time when it will leap into action. In reality it is better to manure the bed over winter and then plant out new babies in late March under a couple of layers of fleece. Ours went in outside under a double layer of fleece a couple of weeks back and apart from checking for slug damage they will be left undisturbed for a few weeks. In protected tunnels winter hardy lettuce produce a steady stream of leaves all winter.
Whatever you like to call it it, Lambs Lettuce is the Bruce Willis of winter "lettuce". On a negative side it has small leaves that for some reason seem to attract dirt like Spot the Dog and in my personal view has a slightly wooly texture in the mouth but on a positive note they has a fabulous fragrant spinachy flavour and will grow outside without cover from October through until March or April when the plants erupt into pretty white edible flowers and seed themselves everywhere. During winter you can use the cut and come again technique to get several crops of lovely fresh green. Perfect!
|Winter purslane flowers|
|Green in the Snow with Lambs Lettuce behind|
|Sorrel piercing the snow.|
As well as the winter purslane mentioned above, four herbs struggle on in a manly fashion over the british winter. Well, it would be more honest to say that they give up partying last in winter and are then first up for coffee in the morning. The hardiest of them all is the sorrel which starts pearcing the snow with arrow head of tangy freshness as early as the beginning of February and if picked hard will continue to produce sharp lemon blades until a Spring sowing comes to the rescue. Chives are another herb that heralds the start of Spring and bring a lovely oniony tang to early salad. Flat leaf parsley also keeps going over winter producing a few leaves here and then and then suddenly leaps into action with frilly freshness at the beginning of March. Coriander is surprisingly hardy and will sulk in a bed over winter to suddenly flush into new growth in late February.
Chervil won't do so well outside but will happily grow in an unheated bed in a poly tunnel and bring a sophisticated hit of frondy aniseed to any winter salad.
|Chives in early February|
|Flat leaf parsley in the frost|
|Red ribbed dandelion|
|Salad picked 7th March for Mothers' Day|