Inconstant Tales #2: The Salad Leaves That The Slugs Wouldn’t Eat

Salad Leaves Individual

I love to grow leafy edibles. The speedier, the better (please send more supplies of focus and patience). But it’s not just the fact that growing salad leaves is a quick way to gain produce. The carpet of green is calming. The number of varieties is wide-ranging, which is just enticing. I am drawn to growing as many types as I can find – or rather, fit in.

However, those young, juicy leaves can be predated by the slug thugs. Seeing your precious green plants all munched can be disheartening, but I see that as an opportunity. The way I see it, the slugs have thrown down the gauntlet of challenge, and I do like a challenge. Can I grow edible leaves that they do not like?

Growing Salads as Experiments

This August, I am planting a round of new leaves which will be left out as part of this annual experiment. Their outcomes will be noted in future posts.

Today’s topic is the main leafy mix that in the last couple of years has gone untouched by our resident slugs and snails. One salad crop is lightyears ahead of the rest: Salad Leaves Oriental Mix. I started purchasing this mix from Simply Seed a couple of years back for an absolute barg of 99p. According to Simply Seed, this mix consists of:

  • mizuna
  • mibuna
  • green mustard pizzo
  • mustard red zest
  • pak choi canton white
  • tatsoi
Oriental Mix: some of the individual leaves

I’ve grown mizuna and pak choi separately as stand-alone crops, with mizuna indoors and pak choi indoors and outdoors. The latter was predated a little by slugs. I can understand that the spicy leaves may be untouched, as I’ve read that they’re not bowled over by spicy leaves, but this mix still carries those unspicy leaves and that juicy pak choi. Yet the slugs and snails did not touch a leaf. Not a single one. These leaves have been outside periodically in spring and summer this year, plus autumn last year, and not a leaf left the building. I advertised them. I left them in a prime spot where the slugs have helped themselves to beets and courgettes, but not these.

Now, I cannot guarantee that this will be the case for everyone. Maybe the slugs will get desperate. Maybe they overlooked the juicy pak choi while the alternatives were more appealing. Nevertheless, I’m going to plant the rest of these seeds, and let them outdoors again, unabashed and blowing free.

Salad Leaves: Oriental Mix in terracotta pot

If you do choose to grow this mix, here are some growing notes:

Salad Leaves Oriental Mix

(from Simply Seed 2019, 2020, 2021)

Position: they have grown successfully in partial shade in a greenhouse or outdoors (at the time of writing, August)

Autumn results: they lasted indoors here in northern England in an unheated greenhouse until (mild) November – later than my cut-and-come-again lettuce types

Soil type: soil used was sieved (peat-free) homemade compost mixed with topsoil

Water: regular watering needed to remain moist (daily in summer)

In situe or transplant: Withstood transplanting

Harvest: continued to regrow after 2-3 rounds of cutting the adult leaves

I’m looking forward to experimenting with the other leaves, particularly the red varieties, but at the same time there’s some trepidation. Some leaves often remain under tight security because I like them too much to risk sending them out into the big wide world! Full of things that see salad as their top takeaway!

Are you growing any varieties of salad/edible leaves, and if so, how are they doing?

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