The benefits of green salads are too many to count so without the knowledge of how to grow them you deprive yourself of the much-needed nutrients they contain on a daily basis. Nutrients are not even the only thing you stand to gain, they also add color and variety to your meal and as you know, variety is the spice of life. Hence, it is important you learn How to Grow Salad Greens.
They not only grow fast and can be harvested in as little as three weeks. They are also flexible enough to thrive in any medium, from wooden boxes to containers and gardens.
They grow ideally during fall and spring seasons but can also grow even in the blazing sun of summer if the right conditions are met.
Selecting an ideal site
You can grow your salad greens in a raised vegetable garden, but it doesn’t have to be a big one. Salad greens can be grown in window boxes, containers, planters and fabric bags. Most green salads such as mizuna, arugula, mustard, baby spinach, and Tokyo Bekana have shallow roots and so do not require deep layers of soil before it can grow crops.
If you choose to grow your plants in a garden, then it’s best to do so in the sunny or partially shaded parts of the garden. During summertime, the shading of cold season green salads can extend its harvest and also delays bolting. But if there is no shade, you can create your own. This can be done by putting a length of cloth over hoops in the garden. You can also use the same hoops during the fall and spring season to shield the plants from extreme cold and frost.
Tips for Cultivating Salad Garden
The following tips will help you grow a salad garden. They include:
- Feeding the Soil: If salad greens are to grow at a rapid pace, then you have to plant them in a soil that is fertile and has a high water retention capacity. Hence, there is a need to dig well-rotted manure or some compost before you begin to plant. At this stage, it’s also excellent you add organic granola fertilizer if there is a need for it.
- Seeds and Seedlings: If you wish to harvest salad greens such as arugula, baby kale and lettuce in thirty or forty days from the planting date, then the best way to go about it is to sow directly. This is not the only advantage of direct seedling, it’s also used for dense planting, but only if you are aiming for crops that are soft and tender. But in the case of larger plants or a mature head of lettuce, you should sow directly while also thinning out as the plants size up. You could even start by growing the seeds indoors under a grow light, then the plants should be transplanted to the garden after about three to four weeks.
- Consistent Moisture: Since most of the crops are shallow-rooted and grow very fast, they need a regular supply of water. If the soil is left dry for an extended period, the plants may begin to bolt, or the leaves may turn yellow. In the case of densely populated baby green salads, mulching around them may prove difficult. Still, if the salad crop being grown is one that forms a head such as a butterhead or romaine, then you need to have shredded leaves or a mulch of straws as this helps in the retention of soil moisture.
- Planting in Succession: This is the process where one crop is quickly followed by another one to ensure that harvest is continuous. To ensure a long season of salad greens that are of high quality, you should plant fresh seeds every two to three weeks. You could also use grow lights to create seedlings which can be plugged into the empty parts of the garden. Even if you are using containers, there should also be succession planting with the same rules being applied. Fill a new pot with soil and then sow fresh seeds every two to three weeks.
- Interplanting: You could choose to sow fast-growing salad greens (example of which is arugula and leaf lettuce) between those that grow at a slower pace (such as peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants). When the salad greens are harvested, they create more room for the slow-growing plants which need space.
How to Grow Salad Greens
If you only envision iceberg lettuce as a salad, then you are missing out as there are so many other options. Salad greens can be made of various nutritious and delicious vegetables. From tender arugula, crunchy kale, baby spinach to ripe Bok Choy, onion slices and crispy cucumbers. And then there are the many kinds of lettuce, all of which ensures you have various options to explore when you want to eat a salad. By using the guideline below, you can grow your own salad greens.
Lettuce can either be loose-leaf, romaine, crisphead (also called iceberg) or butterhead. Loose-leaf lettuce is the easiest to cultivate and is resistant to bolting. It is much longer than the others.
To ensure your lettuce comes out nice and without bolt, it’s best to plant it at a cool temperature during spring or fall. Plant the seeds in shallow soil or plant them indoors, ensure it’s only about 1/4 –inch deep. You can also plant them under direct sunlight or an area that is partly shaded. For Crisphead lettuce, thin the seedlings to every foot while for others, it should be within eight to ten inches. After thinning, there is no need to thrash them as they can be added to your next salad.
Lettuce is ready for harvest if the head is firm while for loose-leaf lettuce, you can pick the leaves at a time of your choice. To have fresh lettuce at every point, ensure you plant fresh ones every ten to fourteen days or just until the weather becomes hot. Once the temperature rises, you can check out different varieties as some are more heat tolerant than others.
This is suitable for those that prefer bold flavors. Arugula is a leafy, peppery green salad. It is best grown in areas with a cold temperature just like lettuces and also areas with some shade. It can also be sown in late summer to harvest during the fall season.
For arugula, it’s ideal to plant them in a compost-rich soil while the spacing between them should be between twelve to eighteen inches. The plants can be picked at any time, but while doing this, ensure some leaves are remaining to keep them growing until summertime.
It is one of the superfoods in recent times as it’s rich in vitamins and minerals. It is related to cabbage and comes in either purple, blue-green or white-green colors. Kale thrives more in cold weather and is usually more delicious in the fall season (it takes on a nutty flavor at this stage).
To produce the desired result, the soil should have a PH range of 6.5 to 6.8 while the salad should be exposed to the sun or grown in a partially shaded area along with a nutrient-rich soil filled with fertilizer and compost.
This is another salad related to cabbage. It has green leaves and white stems and can be harvested as it grows or you could decide to pick it after it has grown small heads. Bok Choy should be planted in cool weather while the spacing between each crop should be about ten to twelve inches. Also, it can be exposed to the full intensity of the sun or shaded areas. The soil to be used should be well-drained, fertile and rich in organic matter.
This is an excellent combination for your salad. This is not only for its flavor but also for its rich nutrient content. The seeds can be planted half an inch deep in a loose or deep soil while space should be two inches apart. The best time to plant is during spring, but it can also be planted later during the summer to give a fall harvest. Just like in the case of lettuce, its new batches should be planted every few weeks while the thinned seedlings can be put into salads.
Salads have been in existence for a long time no doubt. But they graduated from being mere appetizers to becoming a dinner course and today you can have them with dressing as a full meal. By learning How to Grow Salad Greens, you can have your unique mix by combining different vegetables to have a colorful burst of flavor and nutrients.
No matter how you choose to have them, salads are healthy, nutritious and very tasty, and the best part is that you can now grow yours with the new knowledge gained. So, go ahead and enjoy your salads anyway you wish to.