Our friends over at Newlina Eco Gardens (near Newquay) grow and harvest the BEST salads from their farm – so tasty and so beautiful. We asked them to share a few helpful tips for all you Rocket Gardeners who are growing lots of lovely leaves and edible flowers! Here they are:
- Keep all salad leaves and lettuces well watered to prevent bolting.
- Mizuna, mustard leaves and rocket all prefer cooler weather, so are best planted in partial shade rather than being exposed to full sunshine during the summer.
- Lettuces will do well in either full sun or partial shade.
- Grow a mixture of edible flowers – these add lovely colour to summer salads. We use campanula, nasturtiums, chives, calendula petals, borage, violas and nigella.
- Grow lots of mediterranean style herbs too – a lot of the flowers are edible and the leaves add loads of flavour to salads.
- Harvest edible flowers in the morning when the flowers are open
- Harvest lettuces by cutting off the outer leaves only. Leave the centre part of the plant, with the newer leaves, and it’ll keep growing back.
- For rocket, mizuna and mustard leaves, you can hold the leaves in a bunch and use a pair of scissors to cut right across, about an inch and a half above the base of the plant. This will leave enough new growth that the plant can grow back.
In the kitchen
- Once harvested, store leaves unwashed (and un-dressed!) in a freezer bag in the fridge and they should keep for several days.
- Construct your salads using a wide variety of different leaves – peppery rocket, punchy mustard, earthy chard and of course lettuces of all different colours and textures.
- Add loads of herbs – coriander, dill, chervil, basil and other herbs are really good additions to salads. We tend to pop a good handful or two of fresh herbs in one of our salad bags. Just stick to one or two types per salad though, otherwise it can be a bit overpowering!
- Use edible flowers to add colour. Once harvested you can keep them in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to serve the salad and then you can just sprinkle the petals or flowers over the top. It looks great!!
- You can eat the florets and flowers from mustard leaves and wild rocket too (and they are great in a stir-fry!) – we often include them in our salad bags. They add a nice contrasting texture in amongst all the leaves.
Newlina Eco Gardens is a peaceful, green space near Newquay where they grow food, create wildlife habitats, forage, tell stories, cook outdoors and play games helping young people learn new skills, build confidence, and develop a sense of well-being as they spend time in nature. They also supply lots of restaurants and hotels with delicious salads, but of course that is proving a little tricky this summer, so they are delivering veg boxes locally instead!