A salad garden is dedicated to anything you’d toss in a salad—leafy greens like lettuce and spinach, plus superfood veggie like kale. Today, we’re focusing on cool-season, spring salad materials. Save money at the grocery store and waste less produce by growing your own salad greens at home. Leafy green vegetables and herbs are easy to grow and take up such little space that you can grow them nearly anywhere! Plus, if you have fresh greens at home, you’ll be more likely to make healthy food decisions since salad greens naturally contain Vitamin A, Vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, folate, fiber, and other nutrients.
How to grow a salad garden!
Salad gardens are about as low maintenance as they come—plant, water, cut, eat, and repeat!
1. Choose a location
First, choose a location for your salad garden. Leafy greens tend to be compact plants with shallow roots, so you can grow them just about anywhere. Grow a salad garden in a raised bed, a container on your porch, or even a window box—wherever you will be most likely to check on your greens and harvest them.
Leafy greens don’t need much maintenance other than regular watering and occasional weeding, but greens grow quickly, and your salad garden will fare better if you remember to harvest them.
2. Start salad greens early
We have a good selection of lettuce and kale plants at MountainRose Vineyards’ Greenhouse. Lettuce, kale, and spinach are all frost-hardy, cool-season crops that thrive in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. These plants struggle when summer temperatures soar, and the soil dries out, so get them in the ground early to get several harvests before the weather changes! Sow your greens now- (between two and four weeks before your average last frost.) Sow another succession of leafy greens in late summer to have several harvests before the onset of winter.
3. Direct sow or start seeds indoors
Salad greens are very forgiving—you can usually direct sow seeds in the ground or start them indoors, depending on your personal preference and ability. To get a head start in spring, buy your plants. If you sow seeds outdoors, it’s a good idea to cover them until they germinate. The added protection also helps keep seeds from being washed away by water or wind or eaten by birds and other animals.
Check the seed packet for recommendations on how deep and how far apart to sow specific seeds. As for spacing, plant seeds further apart if you want larger plants, or you can place seeds closer together if you plan to harvest younger leaves more frequently. At MountainRose we usually plant lettuce 8 to 12 inches apart, but a little closer in pots.
4. Plan for sunlight and moisture requirements
There’s an old gardening adage: Full sun for roots and fruits, partial shade for leaves. Fruiting and rooting plants need more sun to be able to photosynthesize more sugars into carbohydrate-rich roots and fruit. Leafy green vegetables can typically tolerate some partial shade since the plants are more focused on vegetative growth than fruiting, especially as the weather warms.
Salad greens do best when they receive between one and one and a half inches of rain per week, just a little more than average garden. Try to maintain a consistent watering schedule especially if plants are in pots!
What to include in your salad garden
When you grow your own salad garden, you can cater your garden to your tastes and preferences! The options are endless: you can grow everything from chives to lettuce in your salad garden. Some suggestions are lettuces, including gourmet blends, spinach, Asian greens such as Bok choi, kale, herbs like basil in pots, chives, parsley, and even onions. A few edible flowers such as pansies, nasturtiums, Mexican marigolds and chive blooms are great as well.
Growing your own salad garden can be a fun and rewarding experience and is a great way to take back your personal health! Whether you're looking to save money, eat healthier, or live more sustainably, growing your own salad garden is a great way to achieve your goals. What are you waiting for? Get out there and start gardening. Check us out at MountainRose Vineyards if you need plants or help getting started!
~Edited from a Seeds n Such post