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Grow a salad bar

Cut-and-come-again lettuce mixes can be grown in trays and pots for convenience

Insipid salads are an unfortunate mainstay of far too many British pubs, cafes and restaurants.The situation is getting better - slowly - but the vast majority of salads still involve the same old sorry suspects: watery iceberg lettuce, a flavourless tomato (you know the type - pale, hard and chewy) and, if you’re lucky, a slice of cucumber. No wonder the salad bar is viewed with such contempt by so many!

If you want to create sensational salads, bursting with taste and in a rainbow of colours, there’s only one solution: grow them yourself. A garden-grown salad bar can be a thing of great beauty. Consider this glorious combo: creamy butterhead and red ‘Salad Bowl’ lettuce, cut with feathery mizuna and brought to life with bloodveined sorrel and shavings of pungent candy caned ‘Chioggia’ beetroot. Or how about frilly ‘Red Russian’ kale, startlingly scarlet orache, baby spinach and ‘French Breakfast’ radishes quartered lengthways?Then zhoosh them all up some more with heritage varieties of tomato, finger carrots and a scattering of seeds. Say adios average, hello extraordinary

LEAFY FOUNDATIONS

Let’s start building our salad with some leaves. Leaves contribute bulk, a variety of textures and, of course, a symphony of taste. Aim for a balance of heat and bitterness levels, and plan for a mix of leaf shapes and colours for visual interest too.

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About Kitchen Garden Magazine

Welcome to Kitchen Garden Magazine! In this issue: HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY TREE ✪ Nurseryman David Patch extols the virtues of this beautiful tree fruit FOR EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON ✪ Biodynamic gardener Julie Moore investigates the true cost of our demand for seasonal food YOMPING YAMS ✪ Yams are a mainstay in hotter climes, but Sally Cunningham reveals one that can thrive in the chilly UK And much more!