When other herbs disappear over the winter, lambs lettuce comes to the rescue.
As a hardy annual that can survive low temperatures this herb should be on your list for growing all year round but especially for the cold months when you want some salad leaves on the table.
This herb Valerianella Locusta is also known as Corn Salad and Fetticus. Look for the hardier cultivars if you plan on winter crops.
To all you gardeners who are enthusiastically trying to keep a little balcony or patio herb garden green all year round you'll be happy to know lambs lettuce doesn't need to be sown indoors to enjoy it in winter.
Sow it in tubs or planters in situ at the end of the summer and keep sowing every 2 to 3 weeks so you have a good supply all through the winter..
For a nice display try hanging 10” pots along a balcony railing and sow successively.
Sow the seeds about ½ inch (1 ½ cm) deep in watered compost and cover over until the seeds germinate,
They have hard outer shells so need a constantly moist environment to penetrate the outer shell.
Keep an eye out for them popping though. The seedlings could take from 1 to 3 weeks to appear so be patient and keep the compost moist.
When really cold weather sets in give the young plants some protection using cloches. You can make your own by simply cutting off the bottom half of a clear plastic bottle and using the top half without the cap on.
Bottle cloches have the extra bonus of making it more difficult for snails to find their way in and munch on the tender leaves.
There are several ways to reap the rich pickings.
Raw or steamed is the best method! After all, you want as much vitamin C as you can get through those cold winter months.
This is a tasty recipe I got from a kitchen herb book (ref:1)
Combine chopped up lambs lettuce with salad lettuce and drizzle hot butter with a pinch of salt (I prefer sea salt), lemon juice, garlic and sugar. But I don't want the sugar. Raisins are a better option.
Another tasty dish is to blanch it along with spinach and mix in some olive oil nuts and raisins to sweeten.
Ref: 1 - A Guide in Colour to Kitchen Herbs and Spices by Bohumir Hlava and Dagmar Lanska pg.248
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