The plants of Salad
From February until the end of summer, you can sow salads: as we said before, there are many different varieties of salads, from lettuce to endive, from radicchio to catalogna, which are sown one after the other, every 15-20 days, on small plots of land and are harvested by cutting the leaves at the base, when they are 5 to 19 cm high: in fact, cutting the different varieties of salads in this period, when salads are still delicate and crisp, as they have small thin and tasty leaves, enhances trade and the consumption of salad on the international fruit and vegetable market
Towards the end of winter, the entire garden or greenhouse, where it was decided to cultivate salad, should be already ready for the sowing, and in any case free from other plants of fresh vegetables or dried vegetables and from any specimens of weeds. Salads harvested in summer-fall are sown from June to September, according to the variety produced. You can sow salads in different ways: in open field, in seedbeds, in greenhouse, etc.
If you choose to sow salads directly in the open field, given the season, it is important to keep the soil constantly damp: water is, in fact, extremely important for the germination of salad seeds. Therefore, you should ensure that the soil assigned to the cultivation of salad gets never dry, by watering each time that the substrate appears to be too dry, until seeds completely germinate.
The depth at which you should sow the salad's seeds ranges from 1 to 2 cm at most, while distance among raws can vary between 30 and 50 cm or, on the same raw, of about 5-10 cm.
When the plants of salad produce 7-8 small leaves, it is necessary to space out them, leaving them at a final distance of 20-30 cm; in case sowing was done in seedbeds, you should transplant plants when they have reached the same level of development, paying attention to keep plants in fresh and shaded places, with constant irrigation. Some varieties of salad can whiten naturally inside the head and therefore, be naturally ready for consumption without further actions by producers of salad, farmers of salad or by the fruit and vegetable company that deals with the production of salad; in other cases, however, a specific action is necessary to whiten them: it's the case of endive, a variety of salad whose leaves outside the head are linked together 15-20 days before the harvesting, in order to allow whitening of the heart, and the case of radicchio, variety of salad that to whiten completely must be pruned and stratified in wet sand when a new lump forms.
The whitening of salad, improves its organoleptic qualities: in this way, more sweet and crisp varieties of salad are produced, even though, this process partly limits the nutritional characteristic of salad.
The plants of salad fear a lot cold weather: therefore, it is extremely important to protect them from low temperatures, if you want to extend as much as possible during winter the harvesting of the different varieties of salad. The most simple and economic solution, adopted by many producers of salad, retailers of salad and fruit and vegetable companies that deal with salad, is to cover plants of salad with a cloth; another good solution to protect plants of salad from low temperatures is to use cold greenhouses, to which straw can be added to protect the heads. Salad for fresh consumption and cluster salad are harvested as soon as leaves reach 5-8 cm of lenght, after about 40 or 60 days from sowing of the variety of salad chosen: generally plants are not spaced out, but they are left free to develop, cutting periodically the quantities needed fo immediate consumption.
To avoid that with time, salad leaves become hard, the process of sowing is repeated every 10-20 days, on near plots of land; when leaves start to be of the right size in the new plot, the old one can be reworked and it will be ready for a new sowing: in this way, many producers of salad, fruit and vegetable companies that deal with the cultivation of salad and in general any activity that deals with the production of salad can handle a continuos supply of fresh salad on the international fruit and vegetable market, so that each day fresh and crisp salad arrives on the tables of consumers.
Among adversities that the plant of salad has to face, there are different fungal diseases, which can affect the heart of salad (sclerotinia, anthracnose, downy mildew); other unwanted animal hosts (pests and parasites) may be slugs, mice, aphids and some burrower bugs that can cause serious damage to the seedlings of salad.
Preventions used by producers of salad, retailers of salad, fruit and vegetable companies that produce organic salad and by fruit and vegetable companies that produce organic salad consist of several techniques, among which there are: an appropriate rotation among fruit and vegetable cultivations, avoidance of waterlogging and too crowded sowings of salad, regular and constant irrigation of the plots assigned to the production of salad and to the production of organic salad, removal of residues of the infected fruit and vegetable products and finally nitrogenous fertilizations or made with copper-based products (not for companies that produce organic salad, for which treatments with chemical substances are prohibited by EU regulations for certification).