The summer is here, and our thoughts often turn to eating healthily (whether we actually do it is another question!). We might tuck into more fruit, salads, and lighter foods in general, especially when it’s hot. Fruit and veg in the supermarket can be pricey, they’ve usually been flown thousands of miles, and there’s no way of knowing just how many pesticides they’ve been exposed to. But if you’re a keen or aspiring gardener, what about creating your own salad garden?
Creating a salad garden is easier than you think. Most salad greens only take around 4-6 weeks to grow from seed, they can be grown in a bed or in containers, and the great news for us Brits is that many of them thrive in cooler, changeable weather.
Most salad greens do best in the spring when the temperatures are a little cooler, but there are plenty of greens that can cope with the heat, like Swiss chard.
Creating a salad garden: our top tips
Pick a good site
One of the best things about growing salad greens is that you can pretty much grow them anywhere. You don’t need to have much of a garden at all. You can grow salad greens in containers, window boxes, or planters. If you do want to grow them in your garden, choose a place that’s sunny or just a little in the shade.
Nourish the soil
Wherever you grow your greens, make sure the soil is well-nourished and hydrated. If the soil needs a little help, add a little compost or organic fertiliser.
Reap what you sow
If you’re growing greens like leaf lettuce or kale which are ready to harvest in as little as 40 days, sowing the seeds directly into the soil is the key. If you’re growing larger greens or heads of lettuce, you can directly sow, or starts the seeds off indoors under lights. Once they start to grow, they should be planted into the garden.
Keep them hydrated
Salad greens grow so fast so they need plenty of water. If they aren’t hydrated, the leaves can become bitter. If you’re growing greens like romaine lettuce, you can add some mulch to the soil to add and retain moisture.
Keep your harvest going
If you want a long healthy growing season so you’ve got plenty of salad to see you through the spring and summer, sow fresh seeds every couple of weeks. This applies whether you’re growing your greens in the garden or in a container.
Which greens should I grow?
There are so many varieties of salad greens that you can grow in your garden. Try mixing and matching colours and flavours. Many seed companies even offer a mix of salad green seeds so you can create a blend.
Lettuce: Probably one of the easiest and quickest greens to grow.
Spinach: There are several different varieties which tend to grow very fast. It can be ready to harvest 30 days after it begins to sprout.
Mustard: The good news is that you can grow this even when it’s fairly cold. Younger leaves tend to taste quite mild, but once they mature-phew, they have a bit of a kick!