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Ben Raskin answers your questions on salad leaves

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Ben Raskin Ben Raskin | 09:15 UK time, Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Soil Association gardening expert Ben Raskin answers your questions about growing the Dig In salad leaves. If you have a story to share about your salad leaves, you can add your comments at the bottom of this entry. You need to register first, which only takes two minutes.

Debra Meade asks: I have planted salad leaves seeds in a big plant pot. 20cm that have started growing (very small last two weeks. But I think they are dying and I might have planted them too close together. What should I do with them now? Can I transport them to a grow bag or should I leave them where they are

Answer: Salad leaves are unlikely to die from being planted close, they tend just to get a bit leggy. You can either thin them out (eating the leaves you take away of course), or try them as cut and come again - often very thick sowings respond well to this. You may have other problems of course and without seeing pics or knowing more it is difficult to say.

Paul Bowen from Southend on Sea, Essex, asks: A friend said I can water lettuce with a mixture where rhubarb leaves are soaked in water until they smell. Then water the lettuce with this. He says this will keep away white fly and is a feed for veg. Can you tell me is he correct? I say it's not a feed.

Answer: I guess this depends on your definition of a feed. Rhubarb leaves contain nutrients and therefore if you soak them in water some nutrients will dissolve leaving you with water with nutrients in. However, rhubarb leaves also contain oxalic acid which is a powerful pesticide, hence your friend's suggestion. But beware: the liquid is also dangerous to humans and to pets (for instance who might lick the leaves after you water it on). It is also illegal to make your own pesticides so I would not recommend this particular one.

I have never had a problem with whitefly on lettuce, and provided you have plenty of organic matter in your compost then there should be enough nutrients, but if not I would suggest a seaweed feed (or if you want to make you own try comfrey or nettle liquid - made in the same way as the suggestion for rhubarb).

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