Fruit and Vegetables

Valerianella, Songino - Valerianella


GeneralitŠ°


The lamb's lettuce, also called valerian or songino dolcetta is an essence that arises spontaneously in Italy and is generally cultivated for the leaves that are eaten raw, in salads.
It is an annual herbaceous plant that produces white or blue flowers that bloom in spring. The height of the plant reaches 30-40 cm when it produces inflorescence and the basal leaves, gathered in a rosette, are generally 3 to 7 cm long, although there are varieties with larger leaves.
Its botanical name is V. locusta and is a different variety than the valeriana officinalis, a plant often used in herbal medicine for its calming properties.
The wild version is rather widespread in Italy in areas between 0 and 1400 meters high and can take on an infesting character, being a rustic and resistant variety.

Salad details



The lamb's lettuce is an undemanding species, which does not require special care. Particular attention must be paid to watering, to be carried out only when the soil is very dry and in the evening or in the morning, when the sun is not yet warm. The sowing must be carried out preferably in winter, since, in the spring-summer period, in the presence of days with many hours of light, it is easy to go to flower. However, it is also possible to proceed with summer sowing, taking care to place it in a suitable place.
The songino is a variety that lends itself very well to growing in pots and can be planted on the balcony in the autumn, since it is a genus that resists well at low temperatures.
If the outside temperatures are very cold, it is possible to protect this variety by using a cold greenhouse, made with a transparent cover that allows light to filter through, but prevents the ground from cooling down too much.

Songino



During the cultivation period the soil must be kept free from weeds. To make the operation easier, it is advisable to proceed with sowing in rows, about 15 cm apart, to allow easy weeding. However, sowing is also possible.
The lamb's lettuce should not be confused with valerian (Valeriana officinalis), a fleshy perennial with spikes of flowers from white to deep pink and summer flowering. This is a species that can grow up to a meter high, also suitable for cold areas, which prefers sunny and well-drained soils. they are mainly used for the rock garden and for the borders.

Cultivation techniques



Sowing is usually done in the period from July to October, in a shady position, as this variety does not like to be exposed to constant sunlight.
The germination of this type of salad takes place rather quickly, after about a week it is possible to notice the growth of the first seedlings.
Harvesting, depending on the sowing period, can take place between September and March. The plant is ready to be harvested when it has reached a height of about 5 cm.
The soil preferred by this type of salad is the well-drained one, which avoids the presence of stagnant water, which is very harmful to this vegetable.
To have a prolonged harvest, it is good to remember not to collect the whole plant, but to cut it at the base.
This variety does not require any special fertilization, being satisfied with the nutrients present in the soil.

Pests and diseases


Care should be taken with snails and moths that are greedy of the leaves and can ruin the harvest. To remove the snails there are special enclosures or it is possible to make traps with a container filled for a third of beer to be buried at ground level. For larvae it is possible to use natural compounds based on wormwood to be sprayed around the plants. Then there are the beetle larvae that are rather resistant and tenacious, so much so that they resist even for three years in the ground; in this case it is good to eliminate them in the soil preparation phase.
Wrong soil or too thick cultivation can lead to the onset of rot; It is important to check that the substrate has good drainage. In the event that molds arise it is essential to act promptly, intervening with a nettle-based or horsetail-based preparation to counteract its spread.

Valerianella, Songino - Valerianella: Songino properties



This type of salad is very appreciated thanks to its sweet taste and tender leaves; not everyone knows, however, that it also has interesting nutritional properties. And, in fact, rich in vitamin C, iron, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A and vitamins of group B. It is a variety of salad that is believed to have laxative, reconstituent and purifying properties. Like all salads with tender leaves, it cannot be stored for a long time as it tends to deteriorate quickly. It is better to cultivate it in your own garden to be able to enjoy it as soon as it is picked.