Copyright, Sutton & Sons
Dandelion is another ingredient neglected in English salads. The roots as well as the leaves may be used. Blanching improves the flavour of the latter. The flowers should be removed as they appear. The culture of dandelion needs no special comment.
Salsify, popularly known as the vegetable oyster, may be raised from seeds sown in shallow drills in April. Thin the young plants to four inches apart in due course. The leaves may be eaten as salad, and the roots boiled and stored for winter use. Scorzonera is cultivated in the same way.
As rapid growth is absolutely necessary to produce tender and succulent radishes, the ground should be made up rich, or the crop may be raised in frames, sowing the seeds an inch deep in drills six inches apart. Radishes must never be peeled, of course, but should be well washed before bringing to table..
Sorrel will impart a pleasant piquancy to a mixed salad. Sown in drills in spring, and thinned to six inches apart, sorrel should supply leaves during the greater part of the year, if care is taken not to cut all the foliage from one plant at once.
If the cultivation of watercress is attempted in private gardens, a very moist situation should be chosen. Seeds should be sown in March or April, or cuttings put in. The plants must be watered very frequently in summer.
Young onions are useful for flavouring salads, and a regular supply should be ensured by sowing the seed broadcast in small plots from March until August. If only two sowings are desired, they should be made in March and August, and sown in drills six inches apart. The seedlings may be pulled up and used as soon as three leaves are visible on them.
Many cooked vegetables can be used in salad form - notably artichokes, French beans, asparagus, and Portugal onions. A good sauce for these can be made by taking a large spoonful of mustard and beating it up with a little salad oil, a teaspoonful of ketchup, two of a piquant sauce, and the same of tarragon vinegar, adding sugar to taste. Those who find raw celery difficult of digestion should try having a head cooked in boiling salted water, and served as above.
A few leaves of mint, chopped and sprinkled over the salad-bowl, will often be found an improvement as regards flavour.
A German recipe for salad dressing consists of six parts of Lucca oil, eight parts of tarragon vinegar, two of chilli or shallot vinegar, and a very small quantity of cayenne pepper.
Another dressing is made by taking the yolks of three raw eggs, beating them up with one teaspoonful of salt and one of mustard, to which is added three table-spoonfuls of salad oil and one of vinegar.
A third dressing is made by bruising the yolks of two hard-boiled eggs, and mixing them with two teaspoonfuls of vinegar and two of salad oil, salt and mustard being added to taste.
Sydney Smith wrote a witty recipe in verse: "Two large potatoes, passed through kitchen sieve. Unwonted softness to the salad give. Of mordant mustard add a single spoon; Distrust the condiment, which bites too soon.
But deem it not, thou man of herbs, a fault To add a double quantity of sal' Three times the spoon with oil of Lucca crown. And once with vinegar procured from town. True flavour needs it; and your poet begs The pounded yellow of two hard-boiled eggs. Let onion-atoms lurk within the bowl, And, scarce suspected, animate the whole; And, lastly, on the favoured compound toss One magic spoonful of anchovy sauce."
To provide cucumbers for cutting in winter, a heated house is, of course, required; but frame culture is very suitable for spring and summer crops.
Ridge cucumbers may be grown entirely out of doors, choosing the end of May or beginning of June for planting out, and protecting the young plants at the outset from strong sunshine and cold winds by inverted flower-pots or a shaded hand-light.
The culture resembles that of frame varieties. A mulching of rather long stable manure should be given, and the shoots be pegged down to keep them from injury by the wind.
Gherkins for pickling must be picked when quite small, or they will be useless. In other respects the culture of gherkins exactly resembles that of outdoor cucumbers.
For growing cucumbers in frames, make up a heap of manure in each, turning it over at intervals of a day or two, so that the rank steam may escape. On the top of this material should be placed a heap of sandy loam and leaf-mould. As soon as the soil becomes well warmed by the manure beneath it, the young plants should be put in. These will generally be raised from seed, though cuttings can be struck in the summer for autumn planting.
Sow the seeds under glass about the month of February, keeping the house at a high temperature. The seeds are placed singly in three-inch pots, the young plants are potted at once, then planted in the frames.
These should be repainted if necessary, or, at all events, well cleaned, and the glass should be cleansed so as to admit as much light as possible. If there is any doubt as to the temperature of the hot-bed, a thermometer may be plunged just inside the bed. When the temperature stands at 8o° Fahr., planting may safely be carried out.
Put the young plants in firmly, one in the middle of each frame, and water thoroughly with tepid water, both now and subsequently. Never allow the air to get dry inside the frame. Constant syringing or watering with a rosed can on all sunny days will prevent this. As the shoots develop they should be pegged out, and the growth stopped at the first leaf beyond each fruit.