This bag of salad cost £1.50 at the supermarket. In it there are enough leaves to make a salad for four people, with some left over for a couple of sandwiches.
This packet of seeds cost 95p and will grow enough leaves to keep us in salads through the summer and beyond.
Well, ok – the seeds do need a pot of compost and a bit of time to produce the leaves I want. But those leaves will be organically grown, there will be no waste, no packaging. And I reckon they’ll taste a whole lot better and certainly fresher than anything out of a bag. So, all in all, pretty good value for money. If you only have the space and to time to grow one thing, salad leaves must be pretty much as easy and cost effective as it gets.
Even better, you can grow just your favourite leaves. I really like the flavour of bull’s blood beet leaves, mixed with some fresh, young spinach and buttery lettuce. As well as gettng creative with the mix of leaves you grow, there’s the opportunity to get imaginative with containers for growing them in. Why not try some pea tips in tins…
Lettuces in strawberry pots…
If you have access to those lovely wooden wine boxes, they can be very stylish filled with herbs and lettuces. Or you can go for the more easily obtained plastic container. This one is an old plastic carton, filled with compost and sown with spinach and rocket… recycling and productive in one.
All the seeds will need, apart from compost and a container, is regular watering and a bit of sunshine. Sow them little and often – a few seeds sown every week is the way to go. That way you’ll have lots of young plants to snip a few leaves from over a long season.
If you are growing your own salad mix this year, I’d love to hear which lettuces and other leaves you like… and any unusual or artistic containers you use.
I didn’t make a dressing for the supermarket leaves, just added some mint, peas and cucumber for extra interest. But I did make a spring herb dressing to drip (it’s quite thick, so it did drip rather than drizzle) over a lunchtime salad of fresh garden leaves earlier in the week.
When I clicked over to Karen’s blog, Lavender and Lovage, to add the link for this recipe to May’s Cooking with Herbs challenge, I was amazed to see how many bloggers have already added their herby recipes. If you’re keen on using herbs in the kitchen, this could be a very good month to pick up some ideas.
Spring herb salad dressing
a small handful of freshly picked spring herbs, about 2 tbsp when chopped. I used a mixture of parsley, tarragon, chives and sorrel
1 tsp white wine vinegar
¼ – ½ tsp Dijon mustard, depending on taste
1 small shallot, chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Blend together the chopped herbs, vinegar, mustard, shallot and olive oil using a stick blender, until your have a thick, bright green mixture. Check for seasoning and add a little salt and pepper to taste. And that’s it – easy. Use immediately, or keep in the fridge until needed.