Fall Planting For Spring Salads

If you want fresh salad greens in the spring, a number of leafy vegetables will do well for you after wintering over a fall planting.

| September/October 1980

Along about March—when your taste buds are a tad tired of canned goods and you'd almost be willing to swap a week's work for a fresh-from-the-garden salad—it seems like it'll be an eternity before the too-wet-to-till growing ground will be able to produce crispy greens. Well, take heart , because I'm going to tell you about a group of salad-makers suitable for fall planting. You can winter them over beneath a layer of mulch and harvest them for spring salads long before spring-planted vegetables are ready. And—to top things off—I'm going to give you a list of perennial herbs that can add beauty to your garden while they're contributing color, texture, and flavor to your dinner plate.

Lettuce Begin

Of course, lettuce is traditionally considered the basic salad ingredient, and there are—fortunately—several varieties of the leafy vegetable that can be sown in the fall for early spring picking. Arctic King (J.L. Hudson), for instance, produces large heads with crisp, crinkly leaves ... while All Year Round (Unwins, Redwood City) yields compact heads and can be sown again in the spring for an early summer crop . . . and Imperial Winter (Unwins, Redwood City) is a fine loose-head variety.

Snow Job

I recall my father's telling me about an old-timer who always sowed his leaf lettuce on top of a late spring snow. As the drifts melted, the seed sank into the soft, moist earth and germinated ... so every year this clever gardener had lettuce weeks before anyone else did! You can also plant hardy lettuce (except in the very coldest parts of the country) in November. The seeds will overwinter nicely, and then sprout at the first hint of spring!

Frozen Foods

Fall planting isn't limited to lettuce, of course. Such superhardy spinach varieties as Winter Bloomsdale (Burpee) and Cold-Resistant Savoy (Stokes) can be sown in the autumn and harvested all spring long. The succulent dark green leaves are delicious raw (in salads) or cooked.

You may also be interested to know that Unwins offers some remarkable new Japanese onions that are intended for autumn sowing only. The crop matures by mid-June and nicely fills the gap between the time when most folks run out of winter storage onions and the day when the first of the new year's planting can be eaten. Order Express Yellow O-X, Imai Yellow, or Senshyu from the fine old seed house.

For those who like 'em slim and spicy, bunching onions—or scallions—are the answer. Try Japanese Bunching (Harris), Hardy White Bunching (Stokes), or Evergreen Long White Bunching (Burpee, Park) ... they're all delicious!

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