EDIBLES

Salad crops to plant in spring

Go Gardening - - Editorial -

Non-stop sal­ads

If win­ter’s had you reach­ing for the com­fort food, spring is the time to turn over a new leaf and plant a gar­den full of healthy, nu­tri­ent dense food.

A veg­etable gar­den pro­vides our most vi­tally im­por­tant foods. Raw veg­eta­bles in par­tic­u­lar are loaded with vi­ta­mins and min­er­als, plus other cru­cial com­pounds that are es­sen­tial to good health. Bet­ter di­ges­tion, more en­ergy, bet­ter skin, clearer think­ing, im­proved fer­til­ity and weight loss are just some of the re­wards when we eat a diet that’s loaded with raw veges, fruits, seeds and nuts.

The fresh­est pos­si­ble salad greens are those we eat straight from our own gar­dens. No mat­ter how big or small, a gar­den is an op­por­tu­nity to grow an ex­cit­ing range of flavours and tex­tures, so spring sal­ads need never be bor­ing.

LETTUCES

grow fast in spring while the weather is still cool with plenty of rain. Be sure to try a range of va­ri­eties with dif­fer­ent colours and tex­tures.

ROCKET

(aka arugula) adds a de­li­cious tang to spring sal­ads and it’s fast and easy to grow, ei­ther in pots or gar­den soil. Rocket flowers at­tract ben­e­fi­cial in­sects such as the hov­er­flies, which feast on aphids.

SILVERBEET AND SPINACH

thrive in cool spring weather. Picked while young, their dark green leaves are great for adding to sal­ads. And they’re es­sen­tial for green smooth­ies or as a healthy ac­com­pa­ni­ment to ba­con and eggs.

BASIL,

that tasti­est of summer herbs won’t sur­vive out­doors un­til frosts are safely passed, but you can start plants from seed in trays in­doors. Grow plenty so you can make tasty pesto to have on hand all summer.

CORIANDER

doesn’t like be­ing trans­planted, but it grows well in spring if you sow it di­rectly into the gar­den or a large con­tainer.

FRENCH SORREL

is an eas­ily grown peren­nial that grows all year round. Chop up the dark green leaves to add their pun­gent lemon flavour to a salad.

FLORENCE FENNEL

looks pretty in the gar­den with its fine feath­ery leaves. Its crunchy aniseed flavoured ‘bulb’ is an ac­quired taste for some, but finely sliced it adds flavour­some crunch to a salad, and it’s de­li­cious roasted too. The pretty yel­low flowers are en­joyed by bees.

PEAS

need to be planted be­fore it gets too hot. Try snow peas and sugar snaps, you can eat the young shoots as well as the sweet crunchy pods.

RADISH

seeds are best sown di­rectly into the soil or a large con­tainer. They are one of the fastest grow­ing veges and fun for kids. Try some of the in­ter­est­ing va­ri­eties that are avail­able as seed.

SPRING ONIONS

can be grown from seed or seedlings and are good in con­tain­ers. There are var­i­ous va­ri­eties to try, in­clud­ing red­skinned va­ri­eties and those with longer white stems (like mini leeks). Plant a row near your car­rots, to con­found car­rot rust fly.

BEETROOT

is ready for har­vest 8–10 weeks af­ter sow­ing. Sow seeds ev­ery few weeks for a con­tin­u­ous sup­ply. This de­li­cious and highly nu­tri­tious root vege can be eaten cooked or raw. Try it grated with bal­samic dress­ing and feta cheese. You can also eat the young leaves, cooked or raw.

CHI­NESE BROC­COLI

is quicker to grow than reg­u­lar broc­coli, but just as nu­tri­tious. The young flo­rets make a nice salad ad­di­tion, lightly steamed or raw.

MICRO-GREENS

are ready to eat in just two weeks from seed. You can grow them in­doors on a sunny win­dow sill or a pot out­side the kitchen door. Al­most any vege or herb can be eaten as a ‘micro-green’, in­clud­ing bras­si­cas, car­rot tops, beetroot leaves and legumes .

ED­I­BLE FLOWERS

add colour and charm, both in the gar­den and on the plate. Try cal­en­dula, vi­ola, chives, bor­age, and pep­pery nas­tur­tium.

Florence Fennel adds flavour­some crunch to a salad

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