The kitchen garden is incomplete without its provision for the salad bowl. Let us therefore glance at a few of the most important ingredients.
A few slices are indispensable. They must not be too large, therefore we shall give preference to the long over the Turnip-rooted when they are in season. Culture and varieties have already been discussed: see a previous chapter.
What an invaluable vegetable is this! It can be sliced for the salad, used to flavour soups, eaten as a relish with bread and butter, and cooked as an ordinary table dish. Yet it is rarely grown. It is referred to under Celery.
A minor ingredient of the bowl, yet a pleasant one. There are several kinds, but the curled is the commonest. This may be sown 1/2 inch deep in spring, and the plants thinned to 4 inches apart. Curled Chervil may be sown at intervals right through the summer and autumn if required.
Both Common and Witloef Chicory are grown, the latter perhaps the more extensively. It is a favourite cooked dish in Belgium. Sow in April and thin to 9 inches apart. Lift the roots in autumn, pack in a box with light moist soil, and put in a dark shed. The crowns should be left exposed. Leaves will soon push, and may be gathered and used, the roots being thrown away.
These come in useful as a substitute for young Onions, the leaves being cut close to the ground, where they will be succeeded by others. Seeds may be sown or plants divided in spring. No special culture is required.
Lamb's Lettuce may be raised from seed in spring, and onwards to September. The later sowings are the most important, for they are destined to yield leaves in winter and spring, when salading material is scarce. Sow on a warm border, preferably in light soil.
With Mustard, the most popular of relishes. The culture is almost too simple to require detailing; remember, however, that the seed should be sown four or five days earlier than Mustard to be in at the same time, as it is slower growing.
An indispensable ingredient, the culture and varieties of which have already been dealt with.
Sometimes used as a substitute for Endive, the leaves being bitter. Sow in spring.
Hardier, generally speaking, than Lettuce, and of an agreeable bitter taste, Endive ranks high amongst salads, especially for winter use. It likes a light, rich soil, if sandy all the better. Seed may be sown in May, June, July, and August 1 inch deep, and the plants put out 1 foot apart, except the broad-leaved, which may have 15 inches. Blanching is important, and may be done (1) by tying up the top and covering with an inverted pot, the hole of which is stopped; (2) by covering with boards; (3) by tying up and mounding with ashes. Green Curled and Broad-leaved Batavian are two of the best.
Fig. 92. Sowing And Thinning Spinach.
A, early stages: a, portion of a drill 1 inch in depth, the seeds sown about 1 inch apart; b, portion of drill in which the seed is covered with fine soil; c, row of seedlings in first, and showing second, leaf representing the earliest thinning stage; d, row of young: plants thinned to about 3 inches asunder.
Fig. 93. Sowing And Thinning Spinach.
g, plants finally thinned to 1 foot apart. C, leaf showing how Spinach should be picked.
A long supply of Lettuces is necessary, and both sections, Cos (upright) and Cabbage (spreading), must be recommended. Light, rich soil is the best: in any case the ground must be well tilled. A simple plan of managing the spring and summer crops is to sow 3/4 inch deep, in drills 1 foot apart, prick the plants out 2 inches apart, finally plant them 6 inches apart when they have half a dozen leaves, draw some early, and leave others to mature. This ensures a good supply, and some fine specimens if wanted. The January and February sowings must be under glass; the March sowing may be out of doors if there is a warm border. The last sowing should be from the middle of August to the middle of September, and the plants should be put out by the end of October, in a sheltered position if available. A little protection is advisable in severe weather. The Cos varieties must be blanched by tying. Superb White is a good Cos variety for general use, and Black-seeded Bath may be chosen for autumn. All the Year Round and Continuity are two of the best Cabbage sorts.
The thinnings from permanent crops will supply what is needed in this connection.
Tough and indigestible when they have to fight for life in poor, dry, hungry ground, Radishes are reasonably tender when grown rapidly in rich, moist, friable soil. Sow 3/4 inch deep, broadcast, and thin to 3 inches apart. January sowings must be made under glass, but an outdoor sowing may be tried in February in a warm, sheltered spot, though severe weather may necessitate protection. From April to the end of August there is no trouble, except to net against birds, and keep the soil moist. Early in September a sowing may be made for winter. This may be in rows 1 foot apart, and the plants thinned to 6 inches asunder. Wood's Frame is a good early Radish, and so is French Breakfast, which is mild and sweet. The Turnip varieties are perhaps the most generally useful. The Black Spanish or China Rose may be sown for winter.
Both the roots and leaves of this little plant are pressed into service. It may be sown early in May, the seed, which is very small, being barely covered, and the plants thinned to 6 inches apart. Gathering may be practised in October, November, and onwards.
These have already been dealt with: see special chapter.
Although running water is best, Watercress may be grown on a damp, shady border: the flavour is usually a little stronger, that is all. A start may be made with seed, or some fresh bits of Cress may be put in 4 inches apart: they will soon be established.