Sow & Grow: Salad

For part one of our new Grow Your Own series we’re looking at how to add colour and crunch to your veggie patch – and your plate!

Natalie Crofts
10 April 2018

Healthy, flavoursome and hugely satisfying, salad is one of our most versatile dishes, and the best part is there are no rules or limitations when it comes to whipping up a plate of gorgeous greens. Think sweet fig, pickled beetroot, lettuce and creamy goats’ curd; charred broccoli with rocket and toasted pine nuts; or pea, tomato and crunchy radish salad spooned over a grilled flatbread. Sound good?

Autumn is the ideal time of year to grow a plethora of delicious salad ingredients ready to pick in as little as four weeks. To help you make the most of the season we’ve teamed up with seed and bulb experts Mr. Fothergill’s to bring you some top picks to sow now for a heavenly harvest.



Image credit

Peas may be a slightly overlooked addition to salads, but whether shelled or sugar snap they add colour, flavour and texture to a variety of dishes. These tiny powerhouses of nutrition are packed with vitamins and minerals, are low on calories, take next to no time to cook and are easy to grow – what could be better?!

Seeds are best sown in well prepared soil with plenty of compost. To grow you will need to prepare flat trenches 15cm wide and 5cm deep. Plant the seeds into damp soil in a zig-zag fashion along the middle of the trench. Fill the trench with soil and gently firm down. It is a good idea to protect your crop with some netting during early stages of growth as they are a delicacy to birds! Using sticks or trellis to support the crop as it grows will improve yields. Water well.

When to plant: Autumn through to spring, depending on variety

Time to harvest: 12-16 weeks, depending on variety

Varieties to grow: Pea Early Crop Massey, Pea Greenfeast, Pea Willow, Pea Dwarf Blue Bantam, Pea Telephone



Image credit

King of the superfoods, kale is one of the healthiest and most nutritious plants on the planet, and there are a diverse number of varieties to grow at home. Loaded with vitamins, minerals and nutrients, high in antioxidants and low on calories, this leafy green is a great all-rounder to pile on your plate this winter.

Relatively easy to grow; sow seeds thinly directly into moist soil – tip: the shower function on Hoselink's premium 7-function spray gun is ideal for preparing garden beds for sowing, offering a gentle yet wide spread of water without drowning the soil. Sow seeds around 5mm deep, depending on the variety, and water frequently until the plants are well established. When seedlings reach around 10cm tall, transplant in rows 45cm apart.

When to plant: Late summer to winter

Time to harvest: 8-10 weeks, depending on variety

Varieties to grow: Kale Dwarf Green Curled, Kale Curly Scarlet (pictured right), Kale Jagallo Nero, Kale Russian Red



Image credit

Eaten raw, steamed or sautéed, spinach is another versatile variety rich in iron, vitamins and folic acid, with a mildly sweet taste.

Best grown in rich, moist soil, in a shady position, spinach thrives in the cold so is well suited to growing in autumn or early winter. Seeds should be sown in rows around 12mm deep and 30cm apart. More seeds can be sown at three-weekly intervals for a continuous crop. 

When to plant: Late summer to early winter

Time to harvest: 8-10 weeks, depending on variety

Varieties to grow: Spinach Viking (pictured left), Spinach Red Kitten, Spinach Emilia F1, Spinach Medania




Image credit

Quick and easy to grow, rocket is another leafy superfood, well known for its strong peppery flavour delicious in salads, scattered over pasta or even whizzed up in pesto.

Grow in fortnightly intervals all year round for a continuous crop. Seeds should be sown thinly, no more than 10mm deep, in rows spaced 30cm apart. This plant needs to be kept moist to avoid it drying out and becoming too spicy. Seedlings require a gentle spray of water – the soft spray rose head on Hoselink’s shower wand is perfect for saturating delicate plants and seedlings.

When to plant: All year round

Time to harvest: All year as required. Leaves are usually ready to be picked four weeks after sowing




Iceberg is the most widely grown of all lettuces but there are actually a wealth of varieties to grow beyond the common four (Iceberg, Butterhead, Leaf and Romaine), each boasting their own unique flavour, colour and crunch. Low in cholesterol and high in antioxidants, lettuce is great for eating raw or cooked.

How to sow and grow depends on the variety you choose. Some, such as Iceberg lettuce, require sowing indoors during frosty periods, though can be grown directly in the garden if you don’t live in a frost-prone area. Generally seeds should be sown 5mm deep in well prepared soil (ideally rich in compost) and should be watered regularly.

When to plant: Spring and autumn

Time to harvest: 8-12 weeks, depending on variety

Varieties to grow: Lettuce Green Mignonette, Iceberg Lettuce, Mesclun Gourmet Salad, Lettuce Red and Green Salad Bowl



Image credit

A member of the Brassica family, cabbage is a leafy vegetable that can be eaten raw for a peppery flavour, cooked for a sweeter flavour, or pickled for a sour kick, and is an excellent source of vitamins K, C and B6.

Cabbage seeds can be sown in trays or direct in the bed, planted around 5-6mm deep, except for Savoy, which usually needs to be sown around 15mm deep. Moist soil enriched with compost and fertiliser will help your cabbage plants to thrive. 

When to plant: Summer to autumn, depending on variety

Time to harvest: 8-12 weeks, depending on variety

Varieties to grow: Cabbage Mini Heirloom, Cabbage Savoy King F1, Cabbage Chinese Nagaoka F1, Cabbage Golden Acre, Cabbage Red Ruby Ball F1 (pictured right)



Image credit

Available to grow in a wide variety of shapes, colours and sizes, radishes are an edible root in the Brassicaceae family, packed with vitamins and best enjoyed raw to add a peppery kick and crunch to salad.  

Seeds are best sown thinly around 15mm deep in rows nine inches apart, depending on the variety. Sow at fortnightly intervals for a continuous crop and thin out to 2-5cm between plants once established. Water well.

When to plant: All year round

Time to harvest: Around 4 weeks, depending on variety

Varieties to grow: Radish Easter Egg Mix, Radish Long White Icicle (pictured left), Radish Saxa, Radish Sparkler, Radish Scarlet Globe, Radish French Breakfast




Image credit

Possibly one of the most versatile vegetables around, beetroot can be eaten raw, cooked or pickled in soups, salads, sauces and many other hot and cold dishes. Immune-boosting and packed with vitamins and minerals, including potassium, beetroot makes a healthy addition to any plate.

To grow, sow seeds around 12mm deep in rows 30cm apart. Repeat every 4-6 weeks for a continuous crop. Thin out to 10cm apart once established. Keep soil moist.

When to plant: Winter to autumn, depending on variety

Time to harvest: 10-12 weeks, depending on variety

Varieties to grow: Beetroot Moneta (pictured right), Beetroot Crimson Globe, Beetroot Cylindra (Forono), Beetroot Detroit



Literally translating to ‘the flowering crest of a cabbage’, broccoli is a flavoursome, nutritious, iron-rich vegetable that is surprisingly versatile in salads. Stem and sprouting varieties work a treat when lightly steamed, boiled, sautéed or chargrilled and tossed in a salad.

Seeds should be sown approximately 6mm deep in a seed tray before transplanting to their final position when large enough to handle. Keep moist when establishing and water well once planted out.

When to plant: Summer and autumn

Time to harvest: Varies from 8-20 weeks, depending on variety

Varieties to grow: Broccoli Romanesco, Broccoli Italian Sprouting, Broccoli Violet Sicilian, Broccoli Kailaan Express, Broccoli Sprouting Red Arrow