Growing Vegetables Suitable for Salad Beds

Vegetables Suitable for Salad Beds

 

Celery

Celery is difficult to grow, so unless you have a rich, constantly moist soil and really desire celery for the sticks grow celeriac instead. Celery must never dry out, is prone to bolting, suffers from slug damage and needs careful blanching. Swiss chard gives a similar and superior stem for braising and is easier to grow, so substitute this for celery and add other flavourings. Celery does well with beans, tomatoes and benefits brassicas by deterring cabbage white butterflies, but grows best of all with leeks. If left to flower, the celery and leeks will attract many beneficial insects especially predatory wasps and celery seed is good in baking.

Growing Vegetables Suitable for Salad Beds - growing celery

 

Celery and celeriac

Celery and celeriac need careful tending and a permanently moist, if not boggy, rich soil to grow at all well. Ideally, sow thinly on the surface in tiny pots or cells in early spring in a propagator. It is difficult to sow individually so thin early and pot up into bigger pots, before planting out at about a foot apart in trenches under plastic bottles or cloches in early summer. They must never be allowed to dry out. Once the plants are three-quarters grown, remove poor leaves, surround each plant with newspaper collars and earth them up to blanch them.

Take precautions against slugs and do not believe the claims of self-blanching types, which have a tougher texture.

If you only want celery flavour from the leaves, sow it direct and thick like chervil or parsley. Or grow celeriac instead. Sow in the same way as for celery and give it the same moist, rich soil when planting out. Celeriac is more forgiving and can be persuaded to produce its swollen root by most gardeners. No blanching is ever needed. The peeled root is used grated raw, braised or in other ways where celery flavour is required. Strip off the lowest leaves as the root starts to swell, and store once mature in a cool, frost-free place. Celery rust may be discouraged with a tea made of nettles and Equisetum.

 

Chicory

Chicory produces big heads that are like a bitter lettuce and are grown just the same. The heads may be solid, or round and looser. The popular radicchio (‘Rossa de Verona’) is dark red, adds colour and a subtle bitterness to salads. This is sown direct or started in cells like lettuce and planted out in early summer. However, some varieties of chicory such as ‘Brussels Witloof’ can also be left unharvested till late autumn when the roots are lifted, their foliage cut off before being stored in a cool place. Then, when wanted, the roots are packed in sand in a box and kept in a warm, dark place where they produce solid shoots, called chicons. Finely sliced chicons are a superb addition to winter salads. If not lifted, chicory may overwinter and produce early leaves for cutting before bolting. The root can also be roasted and ground to make a coffee substitute.

Vegetables Suitable for Salad Beds - chinese cabbage

 

Chinese cabbage

Chinese cabbage is better known than most related oriental vegetables and is a valuable crop in its own right. It must be sown in situ, a foot or so apart in rich moist soil, or it will quickly bolt. In dry conditions, Chinese cabbages suffer from flea beetle before they bolt, and in wet conditions they are eaten by slugs. New varieties may produce a crop if sown before mid-summer, but most only do well sown just after midsummer till mid-autumn – though the later sowings need cloching.

 

Florence fennel

Florcence fennel is similar to celery with an aniseed flavour and is considerably easier to grow. It is best sown early or in the middle of the summer in situ or in cells. Planted out when very small a foot or so apart. Do not let the plants ever dry out otherwise they bolt as will many early sowings. The leaf can be used in the same way as fennel. If the swollen bulb is cut off above the root it resprouts.

 

Kohlrabi

A tough and disease-resistant crop much like a turnip but easier and not as hot. This should not be grown with brassicas, tomatoes, strawberries, peppers or runner beans, but can be mixed with onions, beets and ridge cucumbers. Though rarely grown, this odd-looking vegetable is very easy, highly nutritious and immune to most pests and diseases. It can be cooked, but is best used raw, grated or as crudite sticks.

It will grow in relatively poor conditions and, unlike turnips, can be transplanted from seedbed, cells or pots. Sow it in succession from mid-spring to mid-summer. Eat kohlrabi before they get large and tough, and use them instead of grated cabbage for Kohlslaw! Look out for ‘Superschmelz’, from Holland, which, if given space, can get very big and yet still remain crisp, tender and good for crudités.

 

Spinach

For those who want the real thing, sow in situ from early spring till late summer. However, spinach can be started in cells or pots if planted out while still very small. It is worth feeding the soil beforehand with ground seaweed or sieved compost as spinach needs moist, rich conditions otherwise it bolts. Protect the plants from birds, use slug traps and never allow them or the plants to dry out. One of the crops most deserving of being grown through a plastic sheet mulch, which keeps the soil off the leaves as well as aiding growth. Round seeded spinaches are the best for summer. For winter and early spring use prickly seeded spinaches – sow them in the same way, but during late summer. Cloches will keep the weather from messing up the leaves, but may encourage mildew.

New Zealand spinach is a non-spinach that is used and grown in the same way. It’s far better in hot, dry conditions, can be started in pots and is more reluctant to bolt. However, it needs twice the space at about two foot apart.

 

06. January 2011 by admin
Categories: Vegetable Gardening | Tags: , | Comments Off on Growing Vegetables Suitable for Salad Beds

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: