I've never got on well with spinach, it didn't seem to matter what variety, when or how I sowed it, it always ran to seed without producing leaves. So last year I bought a few Perpetual Spinach plants from the garden centre and popped them in to see how they did. To my surprise, they flourished, and for the first time we actually had leaves to eat. I therefore decided to take the plunge with a packet of seed this year.
The photo above shows the leaf bed in July. I sowed them in April, Swiss Chard on the left, Perpetual Spinach in the centre and lettuce on the right. The spinach was producing when this picture was taken, and is still going now. It should survive over winter and I anticipate having some early leaves in 2011 before next year's crop gets going. The bed was just composted, with a small bit of manure as well. So a definite success, not one plant went to seed.
The Swiss Chard (leaf beet) was slower to get going, and I had to do a second sowing as it didn't all germinate well. But it is doing well now, as this picture from a few weeks ago shows. Good quality leaves, again the best ever. This is one of those plants which tends to seed itself where it fancies around the garden. The lettuce was Salad Bowl and was very good, as always.
As for the cabbages, I grow summer cabbages, though we tend to eat them well into autumn. This year we grew two of the smaller varieties; Minicole on the left, Golden Acre on the right (the apple helps to give scale). This size of cabbage means you don't end up eating it for days, and we tried Golden Acre as we had difficulties getting a good crop of Minicole. The growing conditions this year were particularly good as we had lots of light at the right time of year, so it was a good test of the two varieties, and the consensus is that Golden Acre won. While not as compact a variety as Minicole, it provided a more consistent crop of similar size vegetables and a slightly better taste too. Minicole varied from teeny tiny cabbages (the size of a blown sprout top) to some a little bigger than the one in the picture. So we'll just grow Golden Acre next year. By the way, as you can see from the picture, our slug population has now recovered in number and appetite!
As the sprouts and purple sprouting broccoli are still going, I'll make a judgment on them later.