LAST month, we offered some advice on sowing seed and, since then, customers have been asking us which vegetables they should choose.

So this month, we’re looking at salad veg and our plant team has picked out varieties that they love to grow themselves and that they’ve found crop well for them here in East Lothian.

Tomatoes and peppers

With peppers and tomatoes being in short supply recently, these were the first salad veg to spring to mind!

Although these can be grown from seed, germination can be tricky and many customers choose to begin with rooted seedlings which will be available in garden centres from late March.

Tomatoes and peppers are very tender and unable to tolerate frost, so a heated greenhouse is the ideal place to grow them. However, if you don’t have a heated greenhouse (and most of us don’t), you can start by growing the plants for the first few weeks in your home. They’ll grow happily in a warm room (away from cold draughts) providing there’s good light.

If you’ve never grown tomatoes before, bush type tomatoes are a good option to begin with. We’d suggest varieties such as ‘Tumbler’ or ‘Tumbling Tom Red’, which can be grown in pots or hanging baskets and will provide you with wonderful cherry tomatoes all summer. If you prefer full-size salad tomatoes, you might consider ‘Alicante’, ‘Moneymaker’ or ‘Shirley’, which are excellent, tried and tested varieties that have been customer favourites for years.

If you’d like to know more about growing tomatoes, check out our website at

Salad leaves

Next in the salad bowl, you’ll need some leaves.

If you’re new to growing your own food, this is an excellent place to start, since most salad leaves grow very quickly – some can crop in as little as 21 days from sowing. Importantly, if you sow little and often, you’ll have a continuous crop over many months.

Although well-known lettuce varieties such as Cos, Iceberg or Tom Thumb continue to be popular, we’re finding that there’s an increasing selection of salad seed mixes available, offering a variety of leaves to suit all tastes all in one pack.

Some mixes are simply a selection of lettuce varieties such as 'Lettuce Red & Green Salad Bowl Mixed’ or ‘Lettuce Contrast’. Both of these can be easily grown in pots and they produce a mix of colourful baby leaves that can be picked as required.

Other seed mixes incorporate other salad leaves offering a wide range of flavours. For example, if you like mild-flavoured salad, why not try ‘Elegance’ – a mix of attractively coloured European and Oriental varieties producing baby leaves that can be harvested within 21 days of sowing.

At the other end of the taste spectrum, the tangy ‘Suffolk Punch’ packs a punch for those who like their salads to include sweet, mild and very hot flavours.

And in these days of rising prices, don’t forget that a pack of up to 1,200 salad leaf seeds costs just over £2 – there really can’t be a less expensive way to provide the family with fresh, healthy salads all summer!

Other interesting ingredients

It’s also worth highlighting some other fast-growing veg that add interest, flavour and colour to the dish.

One of our most popular varieties is ‘Carrot Paris Market’, the snack-sized, globe-shaped carrot. They can be grown in pots and, because they can be harvested so quickly, they’re an ideal project for children to grow.

Another popular salad veg for colour and flavour is beetroot. We particularly like ‘Beetroot Boltardy’, which can be sown early and grown in pots. The beets can be harvested when they reach golf-ball size and the edible young baby leaves provide another ingredient for your salad.

If you’ve never tried ‘Beetroot Mixed’ before, we’re sure you’ll be impressed with the range of colours, including reds, pinks, yellows, whites and even striped beets, each with a subtly different flavour.

For some crispy crunch in your salad, radish is a great choice and ‘Radish Nelson’, with its elongated, cylindrical root, works very well. As with the other veg suggested, it can be grown in patio pots and harvested quickly.

Whilst there’s lots more salad-growing we could talk about, we can only give you so much advice in this column. You’ll find more information on our website at and our plant team are always more than happy to chat gardening and help you get the best results.