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Horticulture

Salad crops

Introduction

There are some vegetables, which are consumed uncooked state and are called salad crops. Salad crops are now more popular because of their food value in the diet. The Carrot, Tomato, Spinach, Onion, Cabbage and are also used in preparation of salad. Besides these the important salad crops used are lettuce, celery, endive, chicory, parsley, and chervil, leek and cress.

1. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

Lettuce is the most important salad crops. It is a native of Europe and Asia and introduced in India by the Britishers. Lettuce is an annual and belongs to family composite. The leaves and heads are used as salad. There are about 150 varieties, of which only about 20 are important.

Types
There are four distict types of lettuce.

  1. Head type variety Capitata,
  2. Leaf type variety Crispa,
  3. COS type variety Longifolia,
  4. Asparagus type variety asparagus.

The head lettuce is divided into two classes crisp head and butter head. Both Butter head and crisp types have cabbage heading varieties and Bunching varieties while the COS type have Spatulate leaved varieties; Lanccolate leaved varieties and Lobed leaved varieties. I.C.A.R recommended Great Lakes (crisp head), Chinese yellow and Slow Bolt (leaf type). Lettuce requires cool growing season. The temperature between 550 to 600F is best. Very high temperature accelerates bolting. It requires 70 to 120 days to harvest.

Planting
The seeds are sown in the nursery bed from August to October. The seeds should be treated with Ceresan (2q/kg seed). 1gm seeds produces 800-900 seedlings. About 500gm seeds are required to transplant seedlings for one hectare. The seeds germinate 6 to 8 days after sowing. 5 to 6 weeks old seedlings are transplanted. Depending on climate and soil the seedlings should be transplanted at a spacing of 45 x 45cm or 45 x 30cm. For transplanting the soil should be prepared well by incorporating 100-125 quintals of compost of F.Y.M., 80kg Nitrogen, 60kg Phosphorus and 60kg Potash per hectare. Half of the Nitrogen may be applied after two weeks.

Fully developed heads are harvested for market but for home consumption even young leaves are harvested.

Yield
The average yield of lettuce is 80 to 120 quintals per hectare.

Pest
The Cabbage lopper and Aphids are two insects harm the lettuce crop. Therefore Malathion (0.01%) should be sprayed regularly at an interval of 7-10 days. The head and leaves should be harved after 10 days of spraying.

Diseases
Botrytis rot, Bacterial rot and mosaic diseases also affecting lettuce plants. The rot is due to soil fungus and bacterial rot occurs during storage and marketing. Mosaic is a virus disease and transmitted by Aphids.

2. Celery (Apium graveolens)

Distribution
Celery is an important salad crop and is grown in Punjab, U.P., Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Assam, and Maghalaya. It is used also in soups and stews.

It is a biennial plant but grown as an annual crop. It belongs to the family Umbellifereae. The flowers are small, white and in compound umbels. It grows to a height of 60 to 90 cm. It contains high amounts of protein and minerals.

Soil and climate
It requires cool climate with well distributed rainfall and enough sunshine. A good well-drained deep and fertile loam, silt loam or sandy loam soil is considered as ideal for celery. The temperature between 15 to 210C is suitable. It is growing well between pH 5 and 6.5. In high acid soil lime should be applied. The roots of celery are shallow. Therefore good preparation of soil is necessary. The surface of the soil should be smooth, even and compact.

Varieties
There are several varieties. The IARI recommended the following varieties; Standard Bearer, Wright Grove Giant, Fordhook Emperor. Emperor Jeen and Giant Pascal are also good varieties.

Planting
Seed may be sown in boxes or pots for early sowing. A few weeks old plants are transplanted to well prepared nursery bed 4-5cm apart. Seedlings of 45 to 55 days old are finally transplanted 15 to 20cm apart in rows and 60-75cm between row to row. The seeds can be directly broadcasted in nursery bed but thinning is necessary. Germination requires 15 to 20 days. Seeds may be sown from July to September but in hilly areas February to April. It is best to grow celery in trenches. Trenches of meter wide, 30-35cm beep and length according to situations should be dug. The surface soil should be placed along each side. It is now filled with compost of F.Y.M and mixed thoroughly with the soil. Tramp lightly to firm the soil. Now celery plants are transplanted in two rows. Water should be provided as and when necessary and lateral shoots should be removed as they appear. When the plants are fully grown the outer leaves should be removed, earth up to their base and this should be repeated every week until only leafy tops are visible. By this the heads are blanched. However, celery can be transplanted to well prepared beds without trenches also. It responds to light hoeing. Weeds should be removed. Herbicides like TOK E-25 at 5 lit/ha or Basalin (1lit/ha) as pre-emergence is quite effective.

The blanching as stated above is done to make the celery attractive. It means the loss of green colour i.e. chlorophyll in the petioles. The light should be excluded in that portion. Paper, boards and soil are employed to blanch celery. Boron deficiency results in cracked stem, which can be corrected by applying Borax to soil. Chlorosis occurs when magnesium is deficient or unavailable to plant. Spraying the plants with magnesium sulfate eliminate chlorosis.

Harvesting and yield
Celery is harvested in 120 to 140 days from sowing. Harvesting is done by cutting the plants below the surface soil with knife. Average per hectare yield is 230 to 250 quintals.

3. Parsley (Petroselinum hortense)

Parsley is a herb whose leaves are used in salads and also for garnishing and flavouring. It is a biennial of the Umbellifereae family. It contains iron, vitamin A and C. Parsley seeds germinate slowly and therefore it should be sown in boxes or in very well prepared nursery beds. The seeds should be sown from August to October. To raise seedlings for one hectare about 1.5kg seeds are necessary. Seedlings of 10 15cm in height are transplanted. The planting distance is 30 x 10cm or 20 x 20cm. There are two kinds of parsley. The plain-leaved and the curled leaved. There are several varieties. The recommend varieties are Moss Curled and Hamburg. Other varieties are Fern-leaved, Curled Dwarf and Extra Double curled. Parsley leaves are bunched for market. The outer and larger leaves are first removed. The plant is allowed for further growth and thus several pluckings are done.

Pest
The Cabbage lopper and Aphids are two insects harm the lettuce crop. Therefore Malathion (0.01%) should be sprayed regularly at an interval of 7-10 days. The head and leaves should be harved after 10 days of spraying.

Diseases
Botrytis rot, Bacterial rot and mosaic diseases also affecting lettuce plants. The rot is due to soil fungus and bacterial rot occurs during storage and marketing. Mosaic is a virus disease and transmitted by Aphids.

4. Endive (Cichorium endivia)

Endive is not much grown in India except home gardens. It is sometimes used to replace lettuce. It belongs to compositae family. Endive has a bitter taste. To reduce this the centres are blanched. Blancing is done by close planting or by tying the outer leaves at the top. Method of sowing, transplanting seedlings and distance of planting and cultural methods are similar to those used for lettuce. The crop should be fertilized for quick growth. There are two types of Endive, the curled leaved and the broad-leaved. The curled type is better for salad. The varieties are Giant Fringed, Green curled and White curled. To harvest the plant, it is cut off near the surface soil.

5. Cress (Lepidium sativum)

Garden cress is an annual of the cruciferae family. It is cultivated in India. The young leaves are used in salads. It needs cool weather and rich soil. Sowings may be done once a week in Boxes or in nursery beds during winter. The leaves are ready for use in 6 to 8 weeks from sowing.

Cress is planted in rows 25 to 30cm apart. Thinning may be necessary. At hills, it should be sown form March to september. The Water Cress (Nasturtium Officinale) is a different perennial, prostate, trailing plant of cruciferae family. It is growing wildy North-west Himalaya, West Bengal and Assam. The leaves are used in salads. It grows in ditches, ponds and near streams. However, it can be cultivated in beds supplied with water from channel. Plants can be raised from seed or by planting pieces of old plants during October to November. the tops of water cress are harvested at a length of 3-4 cm.