Harvest savings by growing a tasty and colorful salad mix in your own back yard.
These days salad isn’t just about clumps of iceberg lettuce covered with dressing. Colorful baby greens, romaines, mustard, spinach and chard and finding their way to the salad bowl.
Garnished with cherry tomatoes, green onions, carrots, sugar snap peas, broccoli or sprouts, these gourmet salads are bursting with appeal.
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Fortunately, the makings for garden salads don’t have to take up a lot of space. With careful planning it’s possible to raise a substantial crop of garden goodies from a space as small as 3 x 3 foot. Lacking even that much space? Container gardens provide another possibility.
Preparing the Garden Plot
The first step is to decide where your garden will grow. Mark out the spot and tend to the soil. Whether in a small plot, or in containers, lettuce needs to grow quickly to taste its best, so soil needs to be rich. Buy premium soil for planting in containers, or work rich compost into a small garden spot.
How much space is needed? That depends on the choice of salad ingredients and how the garden is to be arranged. Although rows are traditional, they tend to require more space and are not necessary in a small garden.
Many people prefer to plant “patch-work” style reserving small areas of perhaps one or two square feet each for various items planted side-by-side.
Planting a Salad Garden
Since the greens will be the main crop, reserve most of the garden space for them. Plant separate “squares” with a green loose leaf lettuce type, colorful lettuce varieties, spinach, mustard, chard–whatever the gardener finds appealing.
Plant remaining squares of space with green onions, radishes, carrots (to be harvested in the “baby” stage), sugar snap peas, or anything else that sounds good.
Loose leaf lettuces grow fast and some types are ready to eat in a little as 4 weeks. To extend the usefulness of the garden, plan successive plantings, or count on spinach, kale, mustard and similar greens which take longer to mature, to supply the base for future salads after the lettuce is past its prime.
Not all greens have the same planting directions, so read each package carefully and plant seeds as instructed.
Tips for Growing The Salad Garden
Lettuce needs lots of moisture, so water it frequently. Without enough moisture leaves may grow too slowly and become bitter tasting.
Leaf lettuce grows best in cooler weather, so aim for spring and fall plantings. In between times, the garden space left by their absence can be planted with something else. For successive plantings, a little organic fertilizer worked into the soil is beneficial.
For best flavor, harvest all greens when young and tender. Replant as need to enjoy fresh tasting salads from spring through fall.