Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Salad leaves ‘can be sown in a greenhouse now’

Greenhouse growing offers a very diverse range of advantages to green-fingered enthusiasts and gardening professionals alike.

The very fact that it is a controlled environment means that the individual is able to grow a much wider range of produce than would usually be the case, as they are not as in thrall to climate conditions.

Indeed, this can mean that the wide range of choice and the relatively limited space are potentially the only restrictions on the grower – as well as their imagination!

However, there are plenty of plants that are simply best grown right now – as the colder winter months give way to the more favourable conditions of spring.

Salad leaves are a great example of such a plant. The British Leafy Salads Association notes that there is a very wide selection of vegetables and plants to choose from for those who wish to get to work on this.

Loose leaf options could be ideal – and tatsoi is a great example of this. It is a form of Chinese flat cabbage, as well as being a true brassica – a genus of plants in the mustard family.

They are collectively known as cruciferous vegetables and are sometimes called cole crops. The term is derived from the Latin caulis, which literally translates as stem or cabbage.

Eco-gardening expert and author of the How to Create an Eco Garden book John Walker said that this is one of the salad leaves he aims to have planted by now. In an article for UK national newspaper the Daily Telegraph, he said that he sows at least one five-inch pot of salad leaves every week.

He added that he typically expects to gain two or maybe three cuts per pot when growing in a greenhouse.

"Right now, the hardier oriental brassicas, green in the snow, komatsuna, mizuna and red mustard can be germinated indoors and will be ready, depending on the weather, in around six weeks," the expert commented.

Mr Walker added that broad beans are also best introduced to the pot at this stage of the year, so they have plenty of time to sprout.

"Sowing now produces young plants for early spring, planting either in beds (near the door so bees will find and pollinate them) or outdoors," he remarked, adding: "Sow one seed to an eight-cm (three-in) pot."

The expert went on to suggest that sweet peas also need to be thought about: "I never get around to sowing in October, but I've often caught up by sowing in November, December or January/February."