Monday 19 May 2014

Not Rocket science

Tim and I rely on salad in the summer months to supply us with a good proportion of our five a day. So to add a bit of variety last year I planted a couple of mixed cut-and-come-again salad blends.(mesclun): Thompson and Morgan's Oriental Mixed salad leaves and Crispy Salad Mix from Wallis Seeds. Oh, and a row of Rocket. Eruca sativa (syn. Eruca vesicaria subsp. sativa) is commonly called salad rocket, garden rocket, roquette, eruca, rucola, rugula, colewort, and, in the United States, arugula. We like rocket.

Just as well really. The salad mixes both contained rocket. While other things - Mustard Greens, Spinach, Tatsoi, mizuna - showed themselves at first, the Rocket rapidly took over. We ended with a bed full of rocket.

In desperation Tim made Rocket Pesto, using large quantities of rocket. The other ingredients were walnut oil, Dijon mustard and cashew nuts, throw them in the food processor using a basic Pesto recipe as a guideline for quantities, blast to a paste, taste and adjust seasoning, bottle...

This year, no rocket. It's seeded itself, so it can do what it likes. I've gone for lettuce - Gourmet Mixture from Nicky's Nursery - and Marshall's Bright and Spicy Salad Mix. Yes folks, it's fluorescent salad for us.

The Gourmet Lettuce mix is a mixture of seven varieties. Out of ten seeds that germinated (more than enough lettuce for two) I think I have six of the seven, which is pretty good going. My only slight gripe is that the two big red ones (variety Firecracker, I think) germinated about a week before the others, and so got big enough to transplant when everything else was too small. Now they are growing away nicely. Oh, and that's a rocket seedling in the foreground.

Gourmet Lettuce - will they taste as good as they look?

Close up, the shapes and colours are stunning.

Firecracker - now that's what I call a red lettuce!

The Bright and Spicy Mix does not include Rocket in its list of varieties. The big frilly-edged things are Serrated Leaf Mizuna. Probably. The other components are Golden Pak Choi, Pak Choi Canton White, Tatsoi (spoon shaped glossy green leaf), Greek Cress, Mustard Red Zest and Mustard Red Frill.

All the different shapes are fascinating
All but the Greek Cress (bottom right) are members of the Brassica family, which makes it hard to pick out a good range of the varieties in the blend, but if I space out the plugs well and remove the extra Mizuna we should have a good mixture. We'll report later on what they taste like.


Jean said...

We found that we couldn't keep up with the production of lettuce so in the end just potted on a few seedlings and started plucking the leaves off for salad as soon as they were big enough.
We started a new batch in the greenhouse every few weeks and that kept us going from June to September.
(It's heartbreaking to see the greenhouse empty this year.)
Nick loves the red ones, I like the green ones best. Yours look glorious and the salad months are upon us.........

GaynorB said...

This certainly makes for an interesting, tasty and colourful range of salad leaves.

Pollygarter said...

I could pot you up a couple of plants for when you next visit - I've also got ten seedling lettuces, probably six too many.