- Soil Association
- September - Guest Grower
Want To Grow Lettuce In The Autumn? Jill Vaughan Shows Us How
Autumn at Delfland Nurseries Limited
Interview with Jill
1. What was your motivation for running Delfland Nurseries?
I want to encourage as many people as possible to grow some of their own food.
This minimises food miles, maximises freshness and helps people to appreciate the skill of commercial growers. It is particularly important for children to learn how food is grown and to experience tasting something they have grown themselves.
2. Why do you love what you do?
I love what we do because we feel that what we do is contributing to feeding people in a healthy and sustainable way!
We love making videos for our new YouTube channel on how to twist and train various glasshouse crops, planting leeks and biological control. If you are interested in that kind of thing then you can watch them here.
3. Have you got any growing tips for our members?
If you are short of space you can grow delicious peas up a chain-link fence very successfully.
4. What are you planning now for the hungry gap over Winter? Many of our readers would like some inspiration for the winter months.
There are lots of interesting salads and vegetables that can be planted outdoors in September and October. If you have a cold greenhouse or tunnel you can grow lettuce. Except for calabrese, try to avoid growing it under cover as it develops an odd taste.
What varieties of salad would you suggest growing?
Spicy vegetables to liven up winter salads include:
Golden Streaks - Attractive, finely-dissected leaf with a hint of 'new potato taste' followed by a sweet mustard flavour.
Ruby Streaks - Similar to Golden Streaks but a rich red colour; mild spicy mustard flavour
Two new wild rocket varieties:
Athena - Extensive European trials have shown significantly reduced levels of downy mildew in the field compared to standard wild rocket varieties.
Red Dragon - A new wild rocket with intense purple veins - nice, spicy flavour
Land Cress (sometimes called American land cress) - Peppery flavour very similar to watercress, though the leaves are coarser; similar in habit to water cress but grows in soil.
Most people prefer their mixed salad to be balanced with some blander leaves – possibilities include oriental vegetables such as komatsuna, mibuna, mizuna and pak choi (red and white varieties), corn salad (also known as lamb's lettuce or mâche) or winter purslane (claytonia).
The most successful lettuce we have grown outdoors is Arctic King, a hardy butterhead type. For protected cropping Kiribati is popular, a compact oakleaf type with light-green leaves, resistant to internal tipburn.
Other vegetables to plant at this time of year include spinach (true and perpetual), chard, overwintered onions (salad and bulb) and garlic.
5. What are you experimenting with this year?
Romanesco cauliflowers are traditionally grown in Summer, but there are new varieties to spread the harvest including Pomezio F1 which is harvested in late April from a July planting and Punto Verde F1 (with a harvest period from mid-June to the end of November (depending on planting date).
Sibsey is a speciality broccoli with sweet and tender green stems. This variety can be picked multiple times to give an extended harvest period. Fresh new side shoots develop after the main compact head has been cut.
6. What are your hopes for the future?
One of our biggest challenges is to feed the world sustainably. I believe that an ecological and preferably organic approach to agriculture and horticulture is the only way to do this.
I would like to see growing and cooking as part of the curriculum in all our schools. I want the government to take a long-term view of feeding the population sustainably and healthily, and to start working towards these goals now.
John Overvoorde and Jill Vaughan own and run Delfland Nurseries Ltd. John is a third generation grower who has been involved in plant raising for over 40 years. Jill was a consultant Soil Scientist with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (now Defra) before joining Delfland in 1996Delfland Nurseries Limited