So much cheaper than supermarket ones, you can choose to grow them organically, they have real flavour & don’t come wrapped in plastic, which means zero food miles, less waste & plastic pollution.
Obviously they’re a staple of salads, they bring freshness & maybe a bit of crunch tucked into a sandwich, & they’re useful as a side dish to up your your vegetable intake.
September is the last month to sow these this year. The days are warm enough to encourage germination & there’s enough light for them to make good, leafy growth before winter truly arrives.
They need protection from the chill of winter & pests like slugs & snails, that are also looking for tasty winter greens. All you need is a brightly lit window-sill, cold-frame or greenhouse.
Choose leaves that don’t mind the lower light levels at this time of year:
Kale – harvest when the leaves are a few inches tall
Oriental leaves – like mibuna & mizuna.
Check the details on the packet to make sure they’re leaves that’ll grow in winter.
I’m sowing the seeds into pots & small seed trays of multi-purpose compost, & keeping them in the cold-frame near the kitchen door.
My cold-frame is light & moveable, easy to move into the best position for maximum light. More importantly I can keep an eye on it, checking for slugs & snails & opening the lid on days when its mild, to keep it ventilated.
Start now & they’ll be ready to pick in 6-8 weeks, & remember to continue sowing a few seeds every couple of weeks through to November.
And finally, here’s some thoughts on growing vegetables organically (& any plants else for that matter).
It’s a slow method, no quick fixes of chemical fertilisers or pesticides. But concentrating on good quality soil to produce healthy, strong plants. Relying on crop rotation, green manures, organic pest control, as much home-made compost as can be mustered, never enough, and all these small acts contribute to a healthier lifestyle for me, my family & everything around us.
It’s easy to think that a small contribution is meaningless, but a combined effort can change everything.
Just a thought.
all photos: Jill Anderson