Grow a nutritious salad garden for fresh ingredients every day
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I love buying fresh produce and I always have high hopes for what I will turn that ingredient into. But sometimes my lovely produce ends up in the garbage and that is a travesty. It hurts my heart to waste good food like that. When you grow your salad in your garden, it’s always fresh and never goes to waste in the fridge.
This is so easy to do and beneficial for many reasons. When you grow your salad in your garden, you know where it came from. You can trust that it’s organic. Everything you give to that plant, it will give you back in nutrition and taste. There’s no fresh, like straight out of the garden fresh.
Another benefit is teaching children where food comes from by getting them involved. This is a perfect project to involve children in.
This is also a project for a novice gardener if you want a more in-depth article on starting a garden from scratch, head over HERE for my other gardening articles.
Choosing a container
This post is addressing container gardening, but if you have space, you could also use these same principles and plant directly into the ground.
There are a few things to consider when choosing your container. The size of your container will be related to the amount of plants you want and how many people this garden needs to feed.
If you are feeding one an 18 inch round container should be adequate to give you an idea. The bigger your container, the more food you will be able to grow. Go as big as you can if you would like to grow a variety of plants for your salad garden.
The shape of the container should be suitable for the area that you will be placing it, keep that in mind. I have used window boxes that are long, narrow, and rectangular. You could use a round container or a long trough-like box with a trellis behind it (if you have climbing plants).
You could also do this in multiple hanging planters if floor space is an issue. The vertical salad garden could also be a fun and unique decor focal point on a patio.
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Seedlings vs. Seeds
I recommend you go where your budget leads you on this one. Seeds are very inexpensive and you can get a lot of bang for your buck here. Seedlings are 500% more expensive but are proven growers and already sturdy and established.
I’m currently using both methods in my herb gardens. In one pot I used seedlings and the other I used seeds. One month in and I’m loving the established herb garden. It’s filling out and almost ready to have it’s herbs trimmed.
The seeded herb garden is very slow going. It’s likely that it hasn’t been warm enough and I jumped the gun this year. But they are growing, it’s just SLOW.
My opinion is to follow your budget, if you can get seedlings (especially if you are a new gardener), do it. You’ll get instant gratification.
When you are at the garden store and looking at the options for garden soil, be very careful that you get the correct soil for your growing conditions.
If you are using a container, you need “Potting or Container Soil”. If you are growing in the ground you need “Garden Soil”.
There are additives to the container or potting soil to help with moisture control and that is what you want. If going organic is important to you, there are organic selections available as well.
Plant selection for your salad garden
This is the fun part! Dream about what kind of vegetables you would like in your salad. Consider your container size and then make a written plan before going to shop.
Growing lettuces for your salad garden
First, what kind of leaves do you want? A container garden isn’t suited to iceberg lettuce for space reasons. You can grow a lot more leafy type lettuces in a small space. Some choices are: leaf lettuce varieties, Arugula, Baby Spinach, and kale.
Growing vegetables for a salad garden
Next, vegetables that are suitable for a container given you have the space.
Radishes can be used around the edges and are ready in 3-4 weeks. Plant a few at a time on a weekly basis so that you have a continuous harvest. These are easily planted from seed. Get a variety pack for interesting looking radishes.
Carrots are easily planted from seed but I have seen seedlings for sale as well. Plant them a few at a time around the border of your container for a continuous harvest. Drop a few seeds every week to 10 days.
Tomatoes are a salad garden requirement! Get these as seedlings for quick payoff. Be sure to select a patio or dwarf variety for space saving. Also, consider a separate container for this guy to go solo. Always plant a marigold flower next to your tomatoes to keep away the horn worms.
Other plants to consider
How about cabbage or cucumber or both? If you are feeling adventurous, I recommend using a container with a trellis behind it or over it and grow a cucumber or zucchini plant! They both need to climb and you can train them gently up the trellis with twine. These are easy to grow and give you quick payoff.
As for the cabbage, get a solitary container for this guy to spread out and grow big. Grow one or more in different containers or at the end of a flower box. Start with a seedling as these take forever from seed in my opinion.
Watering & Care
Because you are growing in a container, you will find that your soil dries out quickly. Pay close attention to your dirt especially on hot days. You may also consider a self-watering container if you worry that you might forget to check or don’t have the time.
If you see bugs on your plants, remove them by hand. I know, it’s gross, but just put on a glove and “re-home” them. Don’t use chemicals, this is your food that is going into your belly. Be kind to your belly.
Sunlight vs. Artificial Light
If you are growing outdoors, be sure to put your container where it will get adequate sunlight. Lettuces tend to be very sensitive to hot temperatures and prefer an area that gets filtered sunlight in the hot afternoons.
Alternatively, if you are growing indoors, purchase a quality grow light. There are tons of these on Amazon at reasonable prices. Think of all the money that won’t be going into your trash can because you are growing your own food!
Harvest and enjoy
As your lettuce grows and is ready to eat, just clip it with clean scissors. It will grow back! Radishes are ready when you see their red shoulders pop through the soil. Replenish them with seed. The same goes for carrots, look for orange shoulders in the dirt.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and will consider giving this a try. Growing a salad garden is an easy project even for a beginner gardener. Let me know if you give it a try.