Tips for Growing Fall Salad Leaves

Reader Contribution by Benedict Vanheems
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Bok choy, tatsoi, mizuna and other Oriental salad leaves are perfect for planting in late summer or fall as space becomes available in the vegetable garden. Sowing at this time makes the plants less likely to bolt, and there are fewer pests such as flea beetles around. Most are pretty hardy and will provide leaves throughout winter, especially if grown in a greenhouse or hoop house.

Photo by Getty Images/Julia_Sudnitskaya

Planting Oriental Salad Leaves

Rake a general-purpose organic fertilizer into the soil, then plant seeds in drills half an inch deep and six to 10 inches apart. Thin seedlings to their final spacings – usually six to twelve inches apart, depending on what you’re growing.

Our Garden Planner automatically spaces plants at their recommended minimum spacings, helping you to plan your garden efficiently. The spacings can be customized if required.

Sowing into plug trays instead of directly into the soil means you can start plants off a little earlier, so they’re growing strongly when you have space to plant them out. Seedlings in plugs are at less risk of slug damage too. The seedlings are ready to transplant about four weeks after planting.

Oriental leaves also grow well in containers for cut-and-come-again picking.

Caring for Oriental Leaves

Keep plants weed-free. Slugs can be a nuisance; pick them off at dusk or set up slug traps filled with beer. Fork over the soil and clear fallen leaves from surrounding areas in early winter to help reduce problems with flea beetle next year. Netting or mesh can prevent pigeon damage.

In cooler regions a hoop house or cloche will improve growth rates as winter approaches. Growing in a greenhouse makes harvests in all but the very coldest weeks of winter likely.

Harvesting Oriental Leaves

Cut through the base of Chinese cabbage and bok choy to harvest the plant whole. Loose-leaved plants such as mizuna can be harvested as cut-and-come-again crops, by pinching off or cutting a few leaves at a time from each plant. Overwintered plants will begin to grow strongly again in spring, providing further harvests before eventually bolting.

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Need crop-specific growing information? Browse our Crops at a Glance Guide for advice on planting and caring for dozens of garden crops.

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