July V: the leaf season so far….

2017 is the first season I am trying to grow many different types of leaf crop. Lettuce, endive, chicory, chard, kale, rocket, pak choi, lambs lettuce and spinach. The spring crops did well, the autumn crops are only now being established.

The spring harvest was only of four types:

1): Over-wintered chard, which harvested well initially in March but did not grow so well prior to going to seed due to the start of the dry spell from mid March, which lasted until the end of the spring chard season;

2): Medania spinach, sown this year in February, yielding good harvests in May before going to seed early due to warm and dry conditions;

3): Little Gem, Grenoble Red and Passion de Brune lettuce. Little Gems (10) were harvested young from May 15th – May 31st. The other two were harvested as Pick and Come Again. I learned that Passion de Brune is poor for PACA in spring, going to seed four weeks after first harvest, whereas Grenoble Red harvested for 8-10 weeks from mid May until late July;

4): Turnips for greens, sown in early March and harvested before the end of May (followed by Mulatka beetroot).

Summer harvests will be of chard (sown before the May Full moon), which started cropping in mid July grown in a 1 square metre slot in partial shade near a cherry tree and raspberry plants and will hopefully yield until November; and Canasta lettuce (Seeds of Italy), sown before the June full moon and ready to harvest as PACA from 28th July (one plant being picked each two days giving a 14 day cycle to regrow as days get shorter).

Both these summer crops are partly shaded, the lettuce behind the pole bean stand but getting good mid morning and late afternoon sun currently. Both are grown in my best compost to partly compensate for the lack of direct sunlight.

Autumn sowings to date have been:

1): Kale, sown before June full moon and 3 plants transplanted on 6th July;

2): Endive, sown 26th June and 7 plants transplanted in the 4th week of July;

3): Chicory, sown 6th July, to be transplanted at the start of August;

4): Spinach, pak choi, salad rocket and Grenoble Red lettuce (first attempt at overwintering lettuce leaves), to be sown before the August full moon and transplanted late August;

5): 3 sowings of lambs lettuce direct into the soil, from early August to early September.


The big lesson of 2017 is how rapidly leaf seeds will germinate if sown at moonrise on leaf days in the Thun calendar. Endive, chicory and lettuce seeds all showed visible leaves within 2 days, an astonishingly rapid speed.

Author: Rhys

Rhys trained as a research biologist, working for a decade in the cancer research charity sector, before completing an MBA and working in management consultancy, technology transfer and early technology investment spaces, mostly working with UK academics to turn their scientific discoveries into value for society. AS a younger man, he was fascinated with mountains, both climbing them and ski-ing down them. Whilst living in Scotland, he completed a round of (then) all 277 Munros, the independent mountains over 3000ft originally complied as a list by Munro. He also spent his holidays representing the Ski Club of GB, as a Representative and Party Leader between 1990 and 1997. During that time, he found to his bemusement that he was able to predict, without understanding fully why, to a remarkable degree of accuracy, when good snow conditions would occur in the Alps, gaining an unworthy reputation for predictive genius in 1990 when predicting the evolution of the 1989/90 winter in Wengen, Switzerland for his CEO boss. He used this skill for the next seven years to ensure that he enjoyed powder snow pretty much every time he went ski-ing. An MD student he was training in Oxford also impressed his wife by taking Rhys' advice about when to take her to Italy in the mid 1990s! In recent years, Rhys has turned his mind toward how to grow prize tomatoes, winning several prizes in local and London shows and has, in the past 3 years, moved toward taking over a 50 square metre urban vegetable patch, which he has turned into a no-dig area since autumn 2014.

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