Grow your own salad

Seasonal_leaves_herbs_and_flowers_on_a_plate_with_dressing
May salad of homegrown herbs, flowers and leaves. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello everyone. I hope the sun has been shining on you these past few days. It has been glorious here, although we did have some very unseasonal gale-force winds whipping up a storm last weekend. Luckily, no serious damage done.

My post this week is more of a “show and tell” rather than a recipe or garden feature. I’ve never been one for growing much in the way of salad leaves, but this year, with more time on my hands in early spring, I decided to try my hand. With vegetable seeds in high demand, I was limited in choice, but  2 of my favourites were obtainable and that’s how I ended up sowing pea shoots and rocket.

4_steps_to_growing_pea_shoots
Easy to grow, pea shoots. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Pea shoots are a crop that you can grow all year round indoors. You just need a container and some compost or soil, and watering can on stand by. I planted up a couple of pots and have had them in the conservatory since the end of April. The shoots don’t like direct sunlight, just bright light and warmth. After 3 ½ weeks they are ready to harvest. The seed packet says that you might get a second harvest so I have cut the first few stems just above a pair of leaves about 3cm from the bottom of the stalk, and now I will wait and see if they shoot up again.

Pot_of_homegrown_rocket_seedlings_and_harvesting_the_first_batch_of_leaves
Homegrown rocket. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Rocket is a leaf for out-of-doors growing according to the pack, but I have grown the leaves on a windowsill indoors before. I did have the ground space outside but I put my seeds in pots because I was convinced the young seedlings would get eaten by the big fat pigeons that strut around the back garden hoovering up the leftovers from the bird feeders. The pots are easier to protect and keep out of greedy beaks.

I planted a few pots with seeds at the same time as the pea shoots. The seeds are so tiny,  it is impossible to sow them thinly. After 2 weeks or so, they were ready to be thinned out. I was able to replant some of the bigger seedlings but the tinniest ones made excellent peppery sprinkles on a salad. By the way, these are the pretty heart-shaped leaves around the edge of the plate above.

Rocket plants grow in clusters of leaves, so when you harvest, snip leaves sparingly from each plant so that the rest of the plant can regenerate.

Selection_of_homegrown_seasonal_salad_herbs_and_flowers_
Seasonal salad herbs and flowers. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Around the garden at this time, I found other herbs and flowers to add to my salad plate. Choose young sorrel leaves to eat raw as they are soft in texture and have less of an astringent taste. Salad burnet is one of my favourite herbs. I have had a pot growing in the garden for several years. Although it looks very delicate with it’s soft, bright, serrated-edged leaves, it is a hardy herb and keeps going from year to year without much looking after. The leaves have a mild, fresh cucumber-like flavour.

Close-up_on_serving_bowl_of_a_sweet_berry_and_thyme_vinegar_dressing
Sweet berry vinegar and thyme dressing. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

A simple combination of salad ingredients requires just the simplest of accompaniments. A while ago I posted on how to make your own flavoured vinegars. The link to the basic recipe can be found by clicking here . At the bottom of the recipe you will find ideas for other flavourings including berries. The vinegar above was made last year using some of the wild strawberries that grow around the garden and I also added a few sprigs of fresh thyme. A simple salad dressing, no oil nor added sugar required.

Close-up_on_plate_of_salad_herbs_leaves_and_flowers
Homegrown salad. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s all from me this week. I will probably be back in the garden next time, until then, take care and enjoy the fine weather.

3 thoughts on “Grow your own salad

  1. Hello Kathryn. So glad your garden didn’t suffer too much from the strong winds.
    I can only agree with your post’s title 😊. For the first time I get to pick our own lettuce this year. Such a satisfying feeling, isn’t it? I have never had chive flowers (or geranium for that matter). Do they taste like onion?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Joëlle. I agree, homegrown lettuce or other salad leaves are rewarding and so much tastier than most you can buy. Chive flowers have a very mild oniony flavour, and geraniums really don’t taste of that much when you eat them with other things. On their own the flavour is slightly earthy. To be honest I only ever eat a few, just when I want to pretty something up. I’d rather the bees had them in the garden for the pollen. It’s been so hot here these past few days. The water butt is empty again. Everything is so dry, and sadly the flowers aren’t lasting as long as in other years. I find myself longing for rain which isn’t something you would hear anyone in Scotland saying very often! 🙂 Have a good week.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. These are unsettling times! I can only empathize, Kathryn, remembering last year’s drought over here. I regularly get upset with the weather announcers for systematically labeling sunshine as “good weather”. Don’t people know how food grows? I hope both you and I get gentle rain soon. Take care!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s