Not everyone likes to eat salads in winter, but we do and so we are always looking for way to not just extend the season, but to grow higher quality, crispier and more colourful salad leaves all year round. Salads are for all seasons though and this guide steps you through the approach we take to salad leaves. I have a separate guide to the extra sprinkles that make a great salad base.

The main categories of salad leaves

This section is very personal to the way we grow salads. We like to harvest a wide range of leaves for a salad, a few leaves from each types of plant, to give a range of tastes, colours and textures. There's a bigger choice of leaves than those offered up here but this is probably enough for most people.


Lettuce is always the main ingredient in our salad mixes and we like at least four different varieties in each mix. We definitely want some crisp leaves and some red ones for example. Winter lettuces are the most challenging by far, because although lettuce is hardy and will take a few frosts without issue the plants stop growing from mid-December until February.

During this period the leaf quality declines and the plants are much more susceptible to stem rot. To eat lettuce for these 6 weeks you need to have grown enough leaf by mid-December to last you 6 weeks and those leaves need to maintain their quality for this period too. It's not easy and unless you have a lot of space available, it might be better to switch to some of the leaves listed below instead.

Alternatively you could invest in grow lights, use them for salad crops during winter and then switch them over to your peppers and tomatoes from mid-February onwards, that's what I'm experimenting with this year and I will have a video on that soon.

We like to harvest individual leaves, a few a week, for a long harvest, however we also grow a dozen plants each month for crispy hearts.


Spinach in autumn and winter is great for cooking, but small spinach leaves in spring and summer are beautiful and crisp and make a lovely addition to your salad mix. We particularly like Amazon and Red Kitten for this purpose.

We harvest individual leaves, a few a week, for a long harvest.

For more on growing spinach check out this guide.


Purslane and especially golden purslane is consistently voted the favourite leaf in our summer mixes, it's golden leaves are crisp and sweet and very nutritious. It's not as prolific as lettuce or spinach, but that doesn't seem to matter. We start our golden purselane in a cold-frame in May and we keep the lid on (but open) all through summer, because it doesn't like the late summer rains we have here. There's green purslane too, but it's not as good.

We harvest a shoot at a time, typically 2-3" long when the plants are less than 6" tall. New shoots will grow back a week or two later.