Wonderful Salad Plants
There's more to salad than just lettuce! We've found quite a few other easy salad plants over the years that taste great.
People often get in touch wanting to buy seeds as gifts. We think the salads are ideal for this.
so we offer a Salad Collection gift pack with a nice selection of different varieties.
We've always been a bit wary of some of the 'unusual
edibles' people would have you try,
but all those we list here are genuinely nice and really deserve a wider audience.
Note: Dark Green = usual sowing & harvest time. (Pale Green = alternatives / extensions)
Claytonia a.k.a. "Miners Lettuce' or 'Winter Purslane'
If you haven't tried claytonia, we think you'll really enjoy it. It grows very quickly with minimal effort - you only need a few plants to get lots of salad ingredients. It's ideal sown as an autumn or early spring crop in a tunnel, but also grows well outside.
Claytonia is an easily grown green, with rounded crunchy leaves. Originally from North America, it has been naturalised in Europe since 1749 but is still relatively unknown for some reason.
To harvest, either pick individual leaves or whole rosettes, it is very nice and crunchy with a good flavour.
Very easy to grow, works really well in a tunnel or greenhouse.
Order SaCy - 1g (hundreds of seeds!) £
Liscari Sativa (Agretti, Salsola soda)
Salsola has a beautiful 'candelabra' shape and crisp, crunchy thin leaves. The whole plant is simply gathered in bunches when small and either boiled and eaten as a vegetable. Raw, it makes a really good addition to salads, slightly salty and crunchy.
Our original seed came from Italy, but also popular in Japan where it is used for soups. An easy plant to grow, and a great addition to the vegetable garden. Delicious, it is rarely available commercially because good seed is so hard to find.
Although the plants do get bigger later on, we think it is better to sow quite a lot and harvest young, so we give you quite a lot of seeds in the packet.
Growing it is easy. Germination is always a bit piecemeal because they are not 'proper' seeds, being actually little plants rolled up in a ball, but don't worry as we give you loads of seed in the packet and you will definitely get many plants from it. Too much heat actually reduces germination - so sow early undercover (up to end March at the latest), or outdoors later in the spring.
Nice both cooked & raw.
Order LGSA - 18g approx (lots!)- £
'Belleville' Leaf Sorrel
We would really encourage you to try this rather fine vegetable. Very easy to grow, producing clumps of pale green leaves with a good sharp lemon flavour - great in salads, as a lettuce substitute in sandwiches (doesn't go limp) and also very good cooked in soups and sauces.
One of the earliest green crops to start in spring and perennial -
once you've got a clump going it needs no attention other than when
you want to eat it. Hardy, early salad. Lemony!
Hardy, early salad or cooking leaf green, very easy to grow.
Order SoBE - 1.5g (lots of seed) £
Another useful perennial, salad burnet has a slightly herbal, cucumber-y flavour, and is a good ingredient in early spring and autumn salads. It's very easy to grow, and if the leaves get old & bitter in summer time it can just be cut right back and will produce another generous flush of new tender growth.
Perennial early salad, easy.
Order SaSB - 1g £
Minutina (Erba Stella / Buckshorn Plantain)
An incredibly easy green that produces all season, this is the domesticated plantain.
It makes a dense clump of long leaves that are forked a bit like the horns on a deer, hence the name. The plants get to a decent size - that's a pencil for scale in the picture.
They are very nice both raw in salads and cooked. Easy – so much so that one gardening advice column said if you can’t grow this, you should give up gardening.
Very easy, great plant .
Order SaMt - (lots of seed) £
Sculpit (Silene vulgaris / S. inflata)
Sculpit - aka Stridolo, and a cultivated larger version of the wildflower Bladder campion - is well known in Italy, but rarely grown in the UK. It's hardy and easy to grow - sow from mid spring either direct or started in modules - and crops throughout the summer well into autumn.
It has an interesting 'herbal' flavour with a slight bitterness, and is often used to flavour egg and rice dishes, though we also really like it in a mixed salad.
Good flavour - ideal in omlettes, risottos as well as salads
Order LgSC - approx 50 seed £
'Bianca Riccia da Taglio' Salad Endive (Chicorium endivia)
Endive is in many ways easier to grow than lettuce. Pretty pale green leaves used just like oakleaf lettuce - this unique variety was bred specially for cut & come-again salad use, and does well in practically any climate. Good flavour, sow spring, summer or autumn.
Plants pictured were sown in Wales in March in a polytunnel - we really appreciated it in our spring salads!
Rare oakleaf salad endive. Especially good for very early & very late sowings.
Order SaBR - 300 seed £
Corn Salad (also known as Lambs Lettuce or Maché)
We've chosen an old traditional variety called "Coquille de Louviers" which has interesting spoon-shaped leaves, is easy to grow, and is quite cold-hardy.
If you don't know it, Corn Salad is a low growing plant that is useful for winter production of fresh salad greens. Its about 4 inches tall and is quite flexible; most commonly sown in late summer / autumn outdoors, for use in winter salads about 12 weeks later. (It can be sown in spring too.) Sow in shallow drills or rows, but you can also sow in modules and transplant out.
In winter , plants given a bit of cover like a cloche will carry on growing on sunny days, providing valuable fresh greens for your winter salads. If sown in spring, you can grow it underneath taller plants such as tomatoes because it is short and will tolerate some shade.
Order SaCS - 2g (at least 1000 seed) £
A whole new class of vegetable here – a unique salad leaf from a cross between a kale and mustard.
The plants make large but delicately lacey leaves with a golden-green colour, and a sweet, but only slightly spicy flavour.
It goes well in salads as the lacey leaves add a delicate bit of ‘zing’. Can also be cooked as a green.
Great new salad ingredient .
Order OvGF - approx 200 seed £
When? Sow in early spring or after midsummer for best results
'Fine Leaved' Shungiku for Salads
Originally from Japan, it is a very easily grown plant and we think it is great added to a mixed salad. It even makes pretty yellow flowers as well as tasty leaves.
This is very popular in the far east - and related to the decorative Chrysanthemum we all know from the flowerbed. It is nice added to a mixed salad, and also shredded in with a stir-fry.
You get lots of pretty yellow flowers if you let it run to seed. Very quick & easy (30 days from sowing) and good for cut & come-again.
Chrysanthemum coronarium. Nice tangy salad-addition.
Order SaFL - 300 seed £
'Magentaspreen' Giant Goosefoot
There’s really no excuse for plain old green salads now! This is a very attractive and easily grown plant, used both for salads and cooked greens.
This variety has bright green leaves, which are frosted with a sparkly magenta colour when young. It is very pretty in salads, or you can use it as a cooked green too.
This is quite easy to grow, but it needs cool nights to germinate. Therefore early spring sowings (up to end March) are fine under cover, but make later sowings outdoors so they don't get too hot.
'Mild' Cultivated Rocket
If you don't know rocket, its a small salad plant with a unique taste - slightly peppery and reminiscent of sesame oil dressing. Very pleasant as long as its not too strong.
Normally Ben can't stand rocket, but this strain, which is less strong than common rocket, is really very nice! He's even been spotted pulling off leaves and munching on them absentmindedly while weeding the seedbeds . . .
Very easy to grow, sow Feb - Oct for continuous harvest. (Will need fleece protection in the winter)
Order SaRO - 2g (lots of seed) £
Yellow Large-leaf Purslane (a.k.a Pursley / Moss Rose)
This purslane from Holland has slightly larger leaves and is pale green ("Yellow" is perhaps stretching it a bit!). An incredibly useful - and very easily grown - plant that is used both as a salad and a cooked green.
It's a low-growing succulent that grows well in most soils and conditions, and has been cultivated for thousands of years.
The leaves , stems and flower buds are used in salads - either a green salad, or with for example feta cheese and tomato - but it is also used cooked as spinach or in pastries or soups.
Order SaYP - (lots of seed) £
"Trieste Sweet" salad chicory
A sweet chicory that is sown densely and cut when small for salad use.
If you are careful not to cut the growing tip it will resprout and make new leaves so you can take several repeated cuts from the same plants.
Order SaTS - 2g (lots of seed) £
~ ORACH ~
We think that Orach - also known
as German Mountain Spinach -
is another vegetable that should really be more widely known.
It grows quickly early in the year, supplying large
quantities of mild heart-shaped leaves
with a pleasant flavour and texture.
They are great as a major ingredient in salads, and it is also really nice cooked .
Magenta Magic Orach
Orach grows quickly early in the year, supplying tender heart-shaped leaves, or delicious cooked. This variety has deep purple leaves that look great in the garden and on the table.
You sow the funny disc-like seed from May onwards, for harvest over the summer.The plants grow to 1m tall (looking very pretty) , but are better picked when smaller as they are nice and tender when young.
Garden Cress, for Spring Sowing:
Crinkled Crumpled' Cress
A fun summer crop that looks pretty in the garden and really lifts a green salad.
This variety was bred for its uniquely ruffled leaves which also look lovely on the plate. It also gives a nice 'bite' to the flavour of a salad, especially with a garlic dressing.
This species (Lepidium sativum) is the cress of 'mustard and cress' that you may have sprouted as a child.
Spicy salad for summer use
Order SaWC - 1.5g of seed £
When? Sow from early to mid spring, or try early autumn under cover - summer sowings will run straight to seed.
Cold-resistant, Autumn-sown Land Cress:
Land Cress is mainly used in salads, but is also be eaten cooked as 'creasy greens'.
This is useful all year round salad plant that forms small rosettes of lobed green leaves. The leaves have a crunchy texture, with a slightly spicy watercress flavour. Definitely a good addition to early and late salads! If given some protection (eg fleece), it will maintain supplies throughout the winter. We like to always have some on the go throughout the year.
Slightly spicy salad for all year use
When? It can be sown at pretty much any time but is best known for its incredible cold-resistance. It is therefore best sown in August for supplies of greens over the winter. You can try in spring too if you like.
Catherine said that this was her best salad crop in the very cold winter a couple of years back - it sat under 2 inches of snow without suffering at all, and was still thriving in Mid March.
Order SaLC - 2g of seed - £