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How to: Grow amazing salad varieties with Sarah Raven

PAC Grounds & Gardens (19)

From plot to plate – Sarah’s must-have salad varieties

From plot to plate – Sarah’s must-have salad varieties

There truly is nothing more rewarding than sowing, harvesting, and serving homegrown salads to friends and family, no matter the season. So, we sat down with Sarah Raven to hear her top tips for growing amazing salad varieties at home.

There are so many different varieties and the best way to get to know which you like is to experiment with different types in your vegetable patch. For the spring and summer months – likely to be quite hot and dry – there are six top salad varieties that make for an abundant harvest…

  • Lettuce “Salad Bowl” - The best, number one, cut-and-come-again lettuce. Keep picking and it keeps producing tender new apple-green leaves. For serial sowing almost all year round.
  • Lettuce “Reine de Glace” - A superb lettuce for eating raw or quickly cooked. This lettuce is loved far and wide for its crunch and taste. Pour hot garlic oil or butter over its quartered hearts and eat them straight away.
  • Lettuce “Black Seeded Simpson” - Crunchy and tasty hearting lettuce that has done exceptionally well in our trials. You can grow this and harvest as a baby leaf or leave it to grow huge and crunchy hearts. Reliably hardy and relatively easy to grow.
  • Lettuce “Merveille de Quatre Saisons" - An unbeatable splash of red in the bowl! This is an old variety, with a big, open structure and beautiful, crumpled bronze outer leaves around a good small heart. Excellent flavour.
  • Mustard “Red Frills” - Punchy, heat-tolerant, salad leaves that taste, remarkably, of new potatoes.
  • Mustard “Golden Streaks” – A vibrant mustard with a strong, pungent horseradish flavour.

With five plants of each variety above, you'll be able to pick a salad from the bed almost every day within six weeks. If you harvest the outside leaves regularly and the central growth once a fortnight to prevent it from running up to flower, they should go on growing and producing more leaves for about 10 weeks – some even longer.

Then sow again with a slightly different range, adding in Mizuna, Buckler Leaf Sorrel and Summer Purslane to take you through to the autumn, when you'll want more cold-tolerant plants such as Salad Rocket and Mibuna.

Choosing “cut and come again” varieties really is the key to success here. To do this, harvest the outer leaves of the plant, leaving the roots and heart in the ground you start by picking at one end of a line, by the time you get to the other, the leaves where you started will have regrown.

So, with the right plants, you can have a sufficient supply to feed friends and family all summer long.

Fancy learning some more? Head over to Sarah Raven's website for extra planting tips and tricks.

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