The 52 Week Salad Challenge was pioneered last year by Michelle over at Veg Plotting. The challenge is to grow and eat home-grown salad for as many weeks as you can in the year, hopefully for a full year (even in winter!). Participants in The Challenge share growing tips and blog posts once a month. I thought I'd missed the boat but the challenge is being run again this year (back by popular demand!) and apparently it's never too late to join in.
I didn't grow any salad last year (the less said about that, the better). This year the idea of growing a variety of salad leaves has taken hold in my imagination, prompted by Michelle's challenge and Naomi's descriptions of the leaves she's growing. So, in mid-March I sowed a few seeds in a windowsill propagator, topped it off with perlite and kept the container rotated towards the light.
I'd intended to start by growing a few baby salad leaves from outdated seeds but, 4 weeks after sowing, they'd developed into such sturdy little plants that I've repotted quite a few for growing on outside in the garden. These are beetroot leaves, Saladin (Cos type lettuce), Cavolo Nero kale, Lollo Rosso lettuce.
Having delved back into my seedbox, I've come up with what I hope will be an interesting mix of leaves for my challenge.
Buttercrunch - an all year round butterhead and Little Gem Cos (Pennard's Heritage seeds)
Mizuna - finely cut leaves, good flavour
Lamb's Lettuce - leaves with a delicate flavour
Bijou - A splash of colour from red frilly leaves.
Lobjoits Green Cos - a tall crisp lettuce, sweet and crisp.
Mixed red leaves, especially for containers.
Mustard - for oriental colour and bite!
Salad Rocket, Purple Choysum and Bull's Blood beetroot leaves (Jekka McVicar seeds)
Salad Burnet (cucumber flavoured herb), Broadleaf Sorrel (tangy leaves) (More Veg seeds)
I've never been averse to chucking a few baby spinach or orach leaves into a salad either.
I always grow nasturtiums, they look so pretty and are very effective at attracting aphids away from other veg; the leaves and flowers are edible or can be made into pesto so I've grown extra this year. So far I have Black Velvet, Blue Pepe, Empress of India and Tom Thumb Alaska. Most will go outside into the veg patch but a few are now earmarked for the salad challenge.
Carrots are another interesting one ... I wasn't going to bother with growing carrots this year although I enjoyed the Little Fingers carrots that I grew in pots last year but then I read that young carrot leaves can be eaten as a salad leaf so they're now back on the sowing plan. I'm looking forward to seeing whether there is any truth in that and will let you know soon!