the school summer holiday's are upon us...how about a salad mix?
If you have little ones who are getting bored of watching TV or playing computer games during their school holidays, have some fun whilst teaching them about where their food comes from and how simple and rewarding gardening can be. So why not try growing your own salad mix?
It's easy enough for children to join in with and quick enough to reward by the time they go back to school. If you have a tiny space, however small it is, you can grow your own mixed salad leaves.
Rekindle the simple pleasure we all had as children, sowing seeds, watching them germinate and then serving up a simple salad mixed with a good dressing, knowing it is organic, a fraction of the price of packaged salads, and will crop for the rest of the summer.
| Several seed suppliers sell what is known as 'cut-and-come-again' salad under different trading names. Some of which include Saladisi, Leaf salad and Misticanza.|
These can be sown indoors from late winter or outdoors from mid spring right up until autumn. Just fill a container, pot, bucket, window box or as I have an old wine box with compost. Thinly scatter the mixed seed evenly over the surface and lightly sieve a little compost over the top, water in and eagerly await germination.
You can expect to be harvesting your first salad within 3-6 weeks depending on the weather, do this using scissors and cut cleanly across about 5cm above the soil. This way, the stumps will re-sprout. You will just need to keep it weed free, remove any brown leaves and water regularly. Simple!
Rather than letting them get square eyes this summer, why not give them green fingers instead!
| The holiday season is here bringing with it time to relax, but don't forget your garden keeps growing! So why not enlist the help of those little ones with 'time on their hands' in the garden this month?|
| To maintain the flowering in your herbaceous borders, pots or hanging baskets, remember to regularly deadhead the plants and feed them to encourage new blooms.|
While you cast an eye around the garden, note any spots that could be improved or filled for next year, it's easier to do this now rather than later when plants have died down.
| One way of filling those gaps is to take semi-ripe cuttings of shrubs and woody-stemmed climbers. Just select fresh shoots that are firm and woody near the base, but still soft and green near the tip.|
Carefully remove the lower leaves and trim to about 4-6 inches long. Insert into a pot of compost making sure they are not touching each other, firm the compost around the bases, water and label them. Keep watch to make sure they do not dry out and remove any fallen leaves.
Overwinter cuttings in a cold frame or greenhouse and transplant to individual larger pots when they are growing. Depending on how well they have grown, plant in either Spring or Autumn the next year.
Enjoy your August,
Linette Applegate - Head Gardener at Toddington Manor.