These are crops grown especially for salads and those which, although suitable for other use, may also be added to the salad bowl. You should create your own salad recipe of plants.
Lettuce is the foundation of most salads and the gardener may take his choice from the many butterheads, crispheads, cos and loose leaf varieties. `May Queen’ is liked for late spring and early summer lettuces. ‘Unrivalled’ is often chosen for successional sowings between early April and August. The three new Dutch ‘IC’ varieties are worth consideration for greenhouse work. Modern cos varieties do not need tying but a tie encourages the formation of a firm heart. The leaves of loose leaf plants are pulled as and when required but no plant should be stripped. American varieties such as ‘Great Lakes’, `Buttercrunch’ and ‘Salad Bowl’ are considered to be more tolerant of drier summer conditions than many other sorts. As with so many other vegetables, early thinning of the seedlings is very important.
Endive often replaces lettuces in autumn and early winter salads. Seeds are sown in June, the seedlings thinned in July and blanching started in October. The heads must be quite dry when blanching is started and absolute darkness is very essential. After being blanched, endive must be used at once before rotting begins.
The easiest form of celery to grow is ‘American Green’. Plants are raised from a sowing made in heat in late March and the plants, after being hardened off in the cold frame, are set out on the flat in early June. Apart from weeding and watering, no cultivation is necessary. Self-blanching celery is often grown as a summer frame crop. For late autumn and winter supplies, blanched celery is grown. The plants, before blanching, may be green, pink or red. All forms of celery need a rich bed a great deal of water.
Celeriac can replace celery in winter salads. Plants raised in heat and hardened off are set out of doors on a rich bed between mid-May and early June. The plants need as much water as celery, and the roots are lifted and stored in October. Celeriac should be grated for salad use.
Chicory has the flavor of the heart of a cos lettuce and the crisp quality of celery. Sow in June and dig the roots in November. Store them in a trench and blanch batches on and off during the winter. In a heated greenhouse, blanched chicons are ready for cutting within a month of planting the roots.
There are two kinds of cucumber—the hardy outdoor and the English frame type. In the south, hardy European, American and Asian varieties may be grown on the flat or on tall trellises. In the north, cloche or frame protection is advisable. A good, all round variety to choose is `Burpee F1 Hybrid’. In the south, ‘Conqueror’ and ‘Telegraph’ do well in the cold greenhouse and in the cold frame. In other areas, plants of both varieties need some artificial heat. The female flowers of hardy outdoor kinds must be pollinated. With frame-type cucumber plants, all male flowers are pinched off to prevent the fruits from being misshapen and bitter.
Mustard and cress is a welcome addition to winter and early spring salads. The seeds are sown in trays or pots filled with seed compost. Germination takes place in a dark, warm place. The white stems and yellow leaves change color when the receptacles are brought into the light for a day or two. Sowings should be made on and off for succession between October and March.
Although termed ‘spring onions’, plants of the onion variety ‘White Lisbon’ are seldom ready for use until May. Sow in August and give cloche protection in cold areas. A further sowing may be made in March or April for summer supplies. Start pulling the onions when they are quite small. The larger the bulbs, the hotter they become in flavor. Early spring supplies of salad onions are also obtained by growing the Welsh onion. The flavor is very mild. Cocktail-sized tree onions may also be used in salads. The onions are very strong in flavor and it is sufficient to slice one or two over a salad.
Beetroot is boiled before use. Summer supplies are obtained by sowing a globe variety under cloches in late March or in the open between mid-April and early May. An intermediate or long variety should be sown in May for winter storing. Carrots are grated for salads and maincrop varieties are suitable. Otherwise thinnings may be used whole.
For crops of radishes between May and October, successional sowings of ‘French Breakfast’, ‘Icicle’ or other quick-growing varieties should be made from March
until August. For use in late autumn and winter salads, large-rooted kinds such as ‘All Season’, ‘China Rose’ and `Black Spanish’ are grown from a June sowing. These radishes have a very delicate flavor when sliced very thinly or grated.
Tomatoes may be grown in heated and cold greenhouses, under cloches, or in the open. `Ailsa Craig’ is reputed to be the finest flavored variety and ‘Outdoor Girl’ is a newer, hardy variety for cloche or outdoor growing. For a difference in the salad bowl, yellow tomatoes are suggested. ‘Golden Boy’ is a large-fruited variety of excellent flavor. ‘Yellow Pear’ and ‘Yellow Plum’ are small ornamentals and ‘Golden Amateur’ is a self-stopping bush plant.
Other suggested additions to the salad bowl are the shredded leaves of white cabbage and of Chinese cabbage, ‘Fir Apple Pink’ salad potatoes, chopped chives, leaves of nasturtium, Tropaeolum majus, sorrel, tarragon, fennel, pods of the Bavarian radish and mint or garlic in very small quantities.