• Growing leafy greens throughout the summer season is often difficult, but it’s worth perservering. A selection of chard, silver beet, tropical spinach, wild-rocket and lovage, are ideal for the spring/summer season. They prefer growing in a little shade or in the shade of another vegetable as they can often go to seed if the temperatures get too hot.
• ‘Cut and come again’ are exactly that. They continue growing as you pick the outer leaves and allow new leaves to grow up at the centre. These include mizuna, rocket, English spinach and the enormously tasty mustard greens. Plant a punnet every four weeks and you will have a constant supply.
• Hearting lettuce includes types such as Mini Cos and Butterhead; allow enough room for the lettuce to heart up nicely and don’t crowd them by planting them too close together. When ready to harvest, cut the plant to 2cm above the ground and leaving a few of the bigger leaves around the outside and the plant will reshoot growing a new plant from the centre (you can do this 3 times!)
Once the plants have sprouted and are growing strong, use soil and mulch to cover the shoots, leaving a couple of leaves showing on the top. The ‘hilling-up’ of potatoes ensures a more plentiful supply. Continue watering well as potatoes need regular moisture!
Encourage the tomato plant to produce a strong and healthy framework, by removing the first flush of flowers. Wait until the second flush of flowers to appear before feeding them.
These are best planted four weeks apart to ensure a trickle of leeks become ready for the kitchen and not a glut of them at one time.
Sowing for Trickle Harvest
The aim of an everyday kitchen garden is to sow small amounts of seed often. This prolongs the harvest. With the big fruiting vegetables, sowing 2 or 3 times through the beginning of the season is ample, as they take a while to mature. However with salad greens and root crops, sowing every month for a trickle harvest is preferable.
Crops you can plant every week of the year, where we recommend planting a few every month for continual harvest.
Carrot, Beetroot, Spring Onion, Leek, Spinach/Silverbeet, Radish, Rocket, Celery, Chives, Lettuce, Wong Bok, Pak Choi, Mini Cannonball Cabbage and Savoy Cabbage.
Favourite Salad Varieties:
Baby Spinach – The young sweet leaves of the English Spinach do not need cooking before throwing into a salad. Just pick the outer leaves and the plant will continue to produce for up to six months; great with roasted pumpkin and feta.
Mustard Greens – Many will appreciate a real horseradish kick to their flavour. Choose from a large red leaf ‘Osaka Purple’ or ‘Red Giant’ but ‘Red Elk’ is a great fine-leaved form. Mix with other gentler tasting leaves such as mizuna.
Watercress – This has a refreshing succulent-leaf texture for that unprofessional look for garnishes and salads. Mild pepper taste that is great paired with poached salmon or ocean trout, wild rice, crème fraiche and potato.
Wild Rocket – Also know as arugula, this is high in potassium and vitamin C, with a delicious spiciness in thin rocket-shaped leaves. As leaves age they become hotter and more peppery. Harvest outer leaves when young. Wild rocket is preferred over the wider leafed salad rocket.
Mizuna – This will make up the main ingredient in your salads. It has a feathery leaf and mild taste.
Oak Leaf Lettuce – The pretty, oak-shaped leaves come in a range of colours. This is a good compact lettuce with ruffled leaves that are great in filling out a salad.
Butterhead Lettuce – The leaves are edible too, and are available all year round. Their rich-red stems and purple leaves give your salad a colourful splash.
Baby Cos Lettuce – The tall, conical heads are quick and easy to grow with upright leaves and strong midrib; perfect for Caesar Salad.
Lemongrass – This is a tall, evergreen grass that grows to 1m. Harvest the stems when fleshy. This perennial prefers the shade and likes to be kept moist.
Mint – This grows best in pots, under shade and there are many varieties with different flavours that can be used for Moroccan salads and Middle Eastern dishes.
Rosemary – These are upright and weeping varieties available and rosemary loves the hot sun and a dry pot.
Oregano – A carpeting herb that is great teamed with green beans, lemon and feta.
Chives – A staple garden herb that is easily grown anywhere, however it may die down in winter to re-emerge once spring arrives.
Chervil – This has a unique aniseed flavour and grows in shade – part shade with delicate leaves.
Coriander – This grows best in winter and spring in a semi-shaded position.