Year-round salad and veg
Now is the time to sow for next spring, says Peter
“Spring cabbage can grow well in compost bags”
THIS is the weekend I have, for many years, sown sweet peas out in the open, on wellprepared ground to be covered by cloches through the winter. Old habits die hard, they say, and on my first job in the early 1950s we would sow those in double rows, with winter lettuce cropped in between.
The lettuce were Arctic King, a soft butterhead type, which can even be grown outside without protection in milder areas of the country, and upright cos type ‘Winter Density’. Arctic King is still worth growing and Lettuce ‘Winter Gem’ is, in my opinion a better, more recent introduction which should replace Winter Density.
Sown this week you will be cutting lovely lettuce next May, removed well before sweet pea plants need all the room and moisture. The latest cabbage includes Cabbage ‘Caraflex’ F1 (EW King), a replacement for Hispi (which the breeder has discontinued); Caraflex can be sown under glass now for early spring harvesting. It has a slightly larger head than Hispi, is very fast growing and also stands longer before the pointed heads split.
All late summer-sown, autumnplanted cabbage grown for spring harvesting are best set out at 9in (23cm) spacing, so alternate plants can be cut as spring greens, leaving the rest to heart up. If you have a cold greenhouse or cold frame, it is much better to grow some of these greens and salads rather than leave the space empty.
Today the fashion is very much towards leaf salads and stir-fry vegetables, many of which can be sown now for winter cropping. While most are pretty hardy – including mustards, corn salads, land cress and kales – some overhead protection prevents the rain splashing soil up onto the foliage and helps to speed up regrowth for successive harvesting.
Pointed-heart Cabbage ‘Caraflex’ F1 can be sown in autumn and spring for an extended cropping period. The heads holding well before splitting