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Grow your own salad leaf mix

growing salad in boxes

Imagine being able to pick your own fresh salad - fresh, unchlorinated, tasty leaves - within 8 weeks. Without a garden, without masses of space, without great investment.

Salad leaves are one of the simplest things to grow, they are undemanding, expensive to buy and crop for ages - but like many simple things we seem to be put off by how easy it looks, as though there was a catch somewhere.

This is my 4 step process.

1. Find a suitable container/patch of ground.

Your container should be at least 10 cm deep, it should have holes in the base of drainage - things I have used successfully in the past are polystyrene fish boxes, mushroom boxes, crates (line with plastic and make holes through the plastic), compost bags (turn on side, cut the front of the bag completely off and use a skewer to pierce through the compost right through the plastic so there are drainage holes) as well as more conventional decorative pots.

Fill your container with peat free compost and water it well, leaving to drain.

If you have a garden, your ground should be free of weeds and raked so that the soil resembles crumble topping.

2. Choose and sow your seeds.

The fastest and tastiest baby leaves are mibuna, mizuna, rocket, mustards, spinach, and salad bowl type lettuces - these are all plants that are happy for you to pick a few leaves at a time, they will keep growing, giving you a much better harvest than if you were picking the whole plant at once.

Pour a bit of seed into the palm of your hand, each of those seeds is a plant. Each seed will grow into a plant that is eventually 8-10 cm square when fully mature. The most common mistake people make is sowing seeds too generously - because the correct spacing looks really miserly. What then happens is that too many seeds germinate, they get crowded and the plants grow really weakly. It is also a waste of seeds and money.

Instead of scattering the seed, draw lines with your finger 5 cm apart on the surface of the compost/soil. Then carefully place a single seed every 3 cm along these lines. This gives you enough plants to be picking from without them getting crowded.

Carefully cover the seeds with a fine layer of compost/soil.

Keep gently watered.

3. Growing and harvesting.

Salad seeds tend to germinate in 4-10 days. They can be harvested when each plant has 8 leaves (just take 1-2 leaves from each plant at this point, you always want to leave at least 3/4 of the plant to grow on).

Make sure you keep them well watered as salad leaves are mainly water. It is also best to pick at the beginning or end of the day when the leaves are cooler and crisper.

If the lettuce begins to grow a flowering stalk it is finished - the leaves will turn bitter - so remove from your container.

Mibuna, mizuna, rocket and mustard all continue to taste good when in flower, and the flowers themselves are edible too adding a little punch to salads.

4. The main secret to growing salad

Keep sowing every 2-3 weeks - that is it.

Most people get very enthusiastic at the beginning of the season, but then forget to sow any more crops. If you sow a small amount of salad seeds every 2-3 weeks from April - September (September sown crops need some protection in the northern half of the UK) you can have freshly grown salad leaves for most of the year.

When you sow your first crop mark your calendar 2 weeks ahead as a reminder to sow some more.

packets of salad

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Comments: 1 (Add)

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Sarah

I love this Jane. Thank you. When you say ‘every 2 weeks, sow more seeds’ do you mean in a different container, or adding to your current container? Question might sound a little silly, but I don’t have a very green thumb. Keep trying though :)

Snapdragon social

Stillness is such a difficult skill to acquire.  I suspect that so much of the rushing about that we do is simply an attempt to avoid being still.
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For if we stopped, paid attention to ourselves, to the world around us, let everything sink in - well that might be very scary.
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But I do think it is the most important skill - a five minute pause, a checking in.  I'm not talking about meditation here - nothing as formal as that - just a stilling and listening and paying attention. Appreciation, recognition, renewal.
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It is something that I am very bad at by nature - but I have been taking lessons from Dixie. 

For if a spaniel can relax into stillness, nosing into a shaft of sunshine, then I'm sure I can.
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Teasel isn't quite there yet.

#aseasonalway #springerspaniel #springerspanielsofinstagram #slowlivingforlife #lessonsfromdogs #bringyourdogtowork #storiesoftheeveryday
One thing that gardening teaches you year on year is that so much is beyond your control. Some things will thrive, others won’t, and mostly it will be nothing to do with anything you’ve done. 
Some years will be great for one crop, terrible for another. This is a great year for garlic here, awful for beans. 

It’s the same with business - a lot of things happen that are due to the ‘weather’ of the world. We can pivot and turn, change our tactics, Google ‘how to make reels’ and so on - but we can also choose to embrace and lean into what is working well. 

My Friday letter today is about social media and all the ways I’ve used to connect with people over the past 21 years - if you fancy a read you can sign up in my profile. 

And in the meantime I’d love to know what’s growing well for you. Or indeed, what has been a disaster! 

#theartofslowliving #livethelittlethings #nothingisordinary #natureandnourish #embracingaslowerlife #aseasonalway #seekthesimplicity #scotlandsgardens #growyourownfood #cornersofmyworld #greenthumb #rusticgamesttong #cornersofmyworld #simpleandstill #vintagegreenhouse
Each year I have a personal project running.  Something just for me. Something that allows me to experiment and play. 
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The first year that I became obsessed with using the plants here to dye textiles - back in 2019 - it was twelve skeins of a raw slubby silk yarn that I  had been hoarding for decades. They became a patchwork cable blanket that now sits on the back of the sofa.
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In 2020 it was double knitting yarns, in dozens of colours, knitted into a stripy jumper to keep me cosy in the Studio.
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Last year I dyed linens and am gradually making them into patchworks and appliqués - many I am squirrelling away for a project that I may or may not ever begin.
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This year I am using mini skeins - in an attempt to keep it more manageable - and exploring the differences in colour caused by the pH of the original extraction. 
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There are four skeins for each plant, two for neutral extraction, two for alkali - with one of each pair being dipped in iron to 'sadden' the colour.
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If science had been like this at school I might have paid more attention . . . .

#botanicaldye #alchemy #growyourowncolour #gameoftones #plantdyed #naturallydyedwool #plantdyersofinstagram #craftwithconscience
#shadesofnature #extractedfromnature #inspiredbynaturesbeauty #plantdyedyarn #naturaldyedyarn #foragedcolour
This is a tomato salad that was inspired by one I ate a few years ago in a cafe in Mingun, Myanmar,
There it was mainly made with green tomatoes, sharp against the shrimp powder.
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In Myanmar the military junta have begun to execute activists arrested after the coup in February 2021. The brutality and violence continue, the quashing of democracy, the corruption. 

11,759 people, arrested after the coup, remain in detention, 78 people, including two children, have been sentenced to death.
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You won't usually find much out about Myanmar in the 'fed to you' media, but this week there has been reporting and a Dispatches programme about mass killings  was on Channel 4 on Monday.  The Guardian has consistently been the newspaper reporting most on the aftermath of the coup and you can also follow hashtags like #whatishappeninginmyamar here. 
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There may seem little we can actively do about the horrors in the world, but people involved always say that what matters is knowing that people care, bear witness and don’t simply forget when the news cycle moves on.
We always have a slight breeze here - a blessing as it stops the midges flying.
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It often gets up at night after a warm day, seeming to breathe its way round corners. 
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If you walk through the garden in the evening at the moment, the scent of Lilium regale drifts about you in eddies of spice.

#simpleandstill #capturequiet #beautyyouseek #calm_collected #aseasonalway #aseasonalshift #cornersofmyworld #slowlived #slowandsimpledays #quietchaotics #ofsimplethings #beautyinsimplicity #floralstories #allthingsbotanical #underthefloralspell #livethelittlethings #thehappynow #ihavethisthingwithflowers #moodforfloral #aseasonalway #slowlivingforlife #aflowerfilledlife
The more I travel down this road the more I realise that deciding how you live, which values you honour, what you will prioritise all have to be deliberately chosen. 
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You can’t just drift into a slower, more intentional life. 
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You can’t buy it. 
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You have to make a commitment to actually live it. 
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And that’s not always easy. 
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It is why I go to events like last weekend’s summer camp @thegoodlifesoc . 
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It is also why I surround myself with a supportive community where my choices don’t seem weird.

It is why my to do list today has sitting with a coffee taking in the swoony scent of the sweet peas on it. 

#howihueit #simpleandstill #capturequiet #beautyyouseek #calm_collected #aseasonalway #aseasonalshift #cornersofmyworld #slowlived #slowandsimpledays #quietchaotics #ofsimplethings #beautyinsimplicity #floralstories #allthingsbotanical #livethelittlethings #thehappynow #ihavethisthingwithflowers #moodforfloral #cornersofmyhome #aseasonalway #slowlivingforlife #aflowerfilledlife
This is the actual physical Studio.
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It is a little cabin between meadow and wood - a space for creativity and connection a space that I deliberately and intentionally worked towards for a number of years.  There is a sunny deck looking onto trees for the summer, a wood burning stove for the winter.
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The Studio is also another thing - it is a club of amazing people who are intentionally prioritising their creativity and connection to the natural world. 
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It is a community of great humour, support and inspiration - the best thing that I have ever had a hand in.
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The Studio Club is closed to new members at the moment and the doors will open to new members again on the Autumn Equinox. 

I'm currently working with @fbarrows, who is providing a gentle and encouraging outside eye, as I decide on what we will be doing in the club over the next six months.
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I've been surveying all the members to find out exactly what it is they enjoy most, what they feel I could do better. 

In this week’s Friday letter I've included a link to a short survey, because I  think it would also be useful to know what people who follow me, but are not members, feel about these things. 
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If you get it, it would help me so much if you could take a minute to fill it out - there are only five questions and there is also a bribe . . . .

#slowlivingforlife #simplelife #whereiwork #simpleandslow #creativelifehappylife
The more we actively take time to pause, to sit still and watch, the more we see. 
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My Friday Letter this week is all about taking advantage of some unwanted early wakening and starting to use the binoculars which have been hanging on the coat rail for eighteen months.
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Twenty minutes with a cup of tea, the binoculars and a lawn full of early birds and their worms.

#momentslikethese
#the_gentle_manifesto
#daysofsmallthings
#natureandnourish
#aseasonalway
#daysofsimpleandslow
#ournaturedays
#aquietmoment
#pocketsofslow
#thesweetlifeunscripted
#folkandstory
#pause
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About Snapdragon Life

In the Studio Club I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

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