Most of our popular salads have a neat trick that you could take advantage of. If you snip off the top growth (or pick individual leaves) when large enough, leaving the growing point attached, the plants will regrow allowing one to harvest them 2-3 times before they run out of steam and must be resown. And that is just what cut-and-come-again crops are – plants that can be cut, or harvested, more than once. This is a great way to produce all your salad needs in a very small space and it allows you to grow such a wide variety of leaves, all with different flavours, in one small tray.
They can be grown anywhere that offers a little protection during the cooler months, but outside too from March to September, or you can simply grow them on a reasonably bright windowsill, don’t know how? Look at this site.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
- A suitable tray such as a windowbox-sized container or you can use pots or seed trays If growing on the windowsill, you will need a suitable tray or saucer to catch excess water. A cover of some sort for the tray, such as a propagator lid or cling film, is useful but not essential.
- Compost – this can be the most affordable it is possible to find such as growing bag compost or bargain multi-purpose. Salad seeds are not fussy about requirements that are compost.
- Last but not least – seeds. See ‘Suitable For Salads’ opposite for a list. There’s no reason why you can’t use up seeds loft over at the end of the season for cut and come again crops.
WHEN TO GROW
You can grow cut-and-come-again salads all year round, but they will grow far slower in the winter. In summer you can be harvesting within as little as three weeks from sowing. In winter it may take eight weeks or more.
SUITABLE FOR SALADS
Lettuce, mustards, oriental greens such as mibuna, mizuna and pak choi, kale, chard, peas, beetroot, perpetual beet, radicchio, onions, endive, radish, watercress, claytonia, lamb’s lettuce. Also some herbs such as coriander, basil, parsley and chives. Seed catalogues also offer a wide range of themed seed mixtures especially for this purpose, or you can buy the seeds separately and experiment with your own flavours. Not suitable: The foliage of members or the tomato family – tomatoes, peppers, aubergines – must never be eaten.
WATCH OUT FOR
If growing outside, slugs and flea beetles can be a nuisance with some crops. Take precautions against slugs and snails and cover trays with crop protection fleece to keep off beetles and other pests such as greenfly.
SOWING A CUT AND COME AGAIN CROP
- Fill the container with compost. If it is deep, fill just three-quarters full to save compost. Sieve a little soil over the top.
- Water the compost thoroughly. You can do this with a fine rose sprayer, or stand the tray in water and allow to soak until the surface is thoroughly moistened.
- Sow your seeds thinly. Sowing thickly may result in overcrowding and could encourage rotting or ‘running to seed’ (bolting).
- Water lightly over the surface of the compost and cover the tray to maintain humidity until the seeds have germinated and about 70% have established.