GROW SALADS AND HERBS AND BECOME A REAL FOODIE.

Growing Salads and Herbs in your garden will turn you into a real foodie.
When someone asks me "If I could only have one raised bed or container in my garden", what would I grow in it that would be quick growing and that would save me a few bob ?--the answer that I immediately give without hesitation is Salads and Herbs.



If you have even the slightest bit of interest please get growing these things and you will soon reap your rewards be it some basil for your pizza, some lettuce for your sandwich or even some rosemary for your roast and thyme for over your roast potatoes.
First of all lets look at some food to grow as Salads- no need to go too fancy if your only starting out but wouldn't it be nice to pick something from your garden that hasn't been flown thousands of miles and more importantly is still fresh.
LETTUCE; ( for sowing times etc click this link )
Leaf Lettuce 
Would you believe that there are some books that give 3 pages to the topic of lettuce-something many of us thinks is an iceberg head in the supermarket. Well be fooled no more-There are 4 main types which are Cos-Butterhead-Crisphead and my favorite which I will talk about The loose-leaf variety that you can just pick leaves off as you need them and keep it growing for ages.
What you will look for in your garden centre when sowing is Salad leaves or even oriental salad leaves.
You can use a window box which is ideal up on your cill away from slugs- get some good quality compost and almost fill-Sprinkle a fine layer of seeds over the moistened compost and cover with about half inch fine compost and remember to water gently. There you go its as easy as that. Within 6-8 weeks or earlier you will be eating your lettuce.
SALAD ONIONS;
Otherwise known as scallions or spring onions are white skinned and nice and mild flavoured. What I use is a variety known as White Lisbon.
Basically use a container or sow in rows beside your carrots in your raised bed or patch and use the same depths as for the lettuce.I don't need to thin as I sow sparingly and I start to pull them as if thinning when they are about half inch thick.
RADISH;
Love it or hate it this is a fast growing salad staple that if you don't want to eat,can be used as a garnish.
As its fast you can sow it in rows between some of your slower growing vegetables. Summer varieties can come in about 3-6 weeks.
BEETROOT;
Can take about 10-11 weeks to come from sowing but this will really wow your friends at the barbecue if you produce some fresh beetroot. Sow 2 seeds at about 4 ins apart because if when you look at seed you will see it is a little cluster of seeds.Some say soak in water for a while before sowing. Thin as they grow and use as baby veg.
That might be enough to be getting on with at the moment as you will also want to get some herbs in.

GROWING HERBS Click HERE to see video
When it comes to growing herbs in the Patchworkveg garden the only one I sow is basil indoors in a big bowl so I can pick as needed and outdoors all over the place.
I find it handier to buy small pots of herbs from a nursery as there are many varieties and I can just stick them in their final growing space.
Some herbs can be grown year after year if you protect it from the frost in the winter.My thyme,fennel,lemon balm and mint have all come back to life among others.
So what herbs will you use in your everyday kitchen. My top ten herbs are;
Thyme
THYME-I keep picking from this as I sometimes mix it through my roasted veg and potatoes mixed with a bit of lemon balm. There are different flavours of thyme out there so pick your favorite.
ROSEMARY- Very versatile- roast chicken with some sprigs tucked in between legs and breast with lemon quarters will give you a delicious flavour. A great tip also -if you use a gas barbecue and feel its not smoky enough for you ,soak a sprig or two in water and put at the edge of your rack out of direct heat and soon you will have a lovely rosemary smoke all over your food.
SAGE-All I can say is sage and onion stuffing.
MINT- More and more people are getting to like this refreshing herb and maybe its because we have learnt to make mojitos.
Rosemary and Mint
BASIL- I would grow this all over my garden as its a great companion for tomatoes be it in the pot or when its growing. Lovely smell and it can be added to your sauce or as the main ingredient in pesto.
PARSLEY- Parsley sauce comes to mind as well as a tasty garnish on top of loads of dishes.
Fennel and Lemon Balm
FENNEL-I use some of this in my sauce when marinading meat and fish. Its give a lovely aniseed hint of flavour if used properly. Worth trying.
LEMON BALM- Try a few leaves chopped in through your lettuce leaves and yes it is lemony.
CHIVES- Finely chopped these can be added to salads,dressings and omelettes.
MARJORAM-Sprinkle over meat and poultry before roasting or add a a garnish to soups.

Oriental leaves starting
Even if you have a balcony or the smallest garden in the universe, you can still grow some or all of the above.
Get some pots going so you can move them around during the growing year. This will definitely save you money and give you an abundance of fresh herbs and salads nearly all year round.
If you are looking for some inspiration on how to use your herbs head to my buddy Donal Skehans website and find a recipe to suit you.
And if you want some tips and would like some help starting your garden with Patchworkveg products please contact us by clicking here. patchworkveg@gmail.com
Happy Gardening.
Sean