Book Review: Salad Leaves For All Seasons

Salad Leaves For All Seasons:  Organic Growing From Pot To Plot, by Charles Dowding

My library had this book presented, and I do not think it was necessarily the best move.  That is not to say that this is a bad book, but the book is tailor-made to showing how to grow salad leaves in the UK in all seasons and that is not always very applicable to a climate like that of Oregon.  Even so, as someone who likes to eat salads all year round [1], I found a great deal to enjoy in this book.  If you read this book, you are likely to enjoy salads as well and you may even be likely to have a fondness for the sort of organic ideals that the author does.  Those who do not eat salads all that avidly are also not the people who are likely to devote considerable time trying to grow salad greens year round for their own table.  This is the sort of book whose topic matter rather nicely self-selects its reading audience, something that probably happens a fair amount when it comes to books that are published and that are put on display in a library.

This book of almost 200 pages is made up of 4 parts and 19 mostly short chapters.  First, the author begins by talking about growing leaves (I) through learning new tricks to get high yields from small spaces using special methods (1), and by focusing on ways to sow less and pick more (2).  He discusses experimenting with salad beds to slow, plant, and harvest throughout the year (3) and pick baby leaves when one has to grow in confined spaces (4), focusing on the palette of leaf colors to work with (5).  He continues by talking about how to sow, raise, and sustain healthy plants indoors and outdoors (6), bring new energy to soil, plants, and ourselves (7), and deal with slugs and other pests (8).  After this the author spends some time looking at the seasons of harvest (II) by showing salad plants that grow year round (9), giving some terrible recipes for all seasons (10).  The author then turns to celebrating outdoor leaves (III) by writing about lettuce (11), endives and chicories (12), cabbages (13), spinach, chard, and beet (14), exotic tastes and colors (15), herbs and flowers (16), and outdoor winter salads (17).  The author then closes the book with a discussion on indoor sowing and growing (IV), with the benefits of sowing indoors (18), as well as growing salad leaves indoors through the winter (19) before including some English resources and an index.

The author clearly has different tastes than I do, and to some extent that makes this book less enjoyable for me than it would have been otherwise.  I think being English certainly accounts in part for the unpleasant recipes offered for what would otherwise be some spectacular salad plants.  Even so, there are some worthwhile insights that this book provides that are well worth pointing out.  For example, the author comments that pests tend to select plants that are distressed in some fashion.  Rather than being (too) angry at such flies and aphids and slugs, it is worthwhile to wonder what is causing problems with the plants that would make them attractive to pests.  Most of the time, I think, people are unaware of the positive side of animals that we tend to think poorly of, but it is worthwhile to note that trouble does deliberately seek out those who are already struggling, something that some people would know without having to read it in a book about plants.  As long as you focus on the author’s techniques and less on the author’s recipes and opinions about plants, this is a worthwhile book.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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1 Response to Book Review: Salad Leaves For All Seasons

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Slow Cooker Dump Dinners | Edge Induced Cohesion

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