Leafy green vegetables are among some of the most healthy foods on the planet, and they’re also the most convenient when it comes to sneaking more veggies into your diet. Here’s how to easily grow salad greens in your garden!
If you’re looking to grow something really practical and useful in your garden that you’ll actually eat, then salad greens are definitely where it’s at. Most people probably have some type of lettuce or salad green in their fridge at all times for putting on sandwiches, making salads (obviously! 🙂 ), or even mixing into soups or pizza toppings. Store bought salad greens can get quite expensive and they don’t always last very long because they’re already at least several days old by the time they get to you.
Salad greens grown in your own garden are very inexpensive, are always fresh, and as a bonus, they actually taste a lot better! Seriously, if you’ve ever have the chance to try arugula from the store next to arugula grown in your garden, you will be absolutely blown away by what a flavour punch that little leafy green can have!
I thought I’d share a few tips that I’ve found useful to help you learn how to successfully grow salad greens as well if you’ve never tried it.
How to Choose Which Salad Greens to Grow
The good news is that pretty much all salad greens are relatively easy to have success with so choosing which salad greens to grow will really mostly depend on your own personal tastes and what fun types of seeds you can find. I will note that heartier greens like arugula, Swiss chard, and kale can withstand a little bit more time between waterings, whereas more delicate leaf lettuces tend to get a little wilty if they aren’t watered quite regularly.
Some of my favourites that I’ve found have done really well have been mustard greens, arugula, sorel, kale, and red leaf lettuce. Of course, you can buy pre-mixed salad mix seeds that will have a nice combination of a whole bunch of fun things to try. These are fun but I honestly prefer to grow each variety separately so I can watch them closely and see how they perform and notice really quickly if there are any issues.
How and Where to Grow Salad Greens
I’ve also written a post all about growing kale specifically, so check that out if you’re looking to grow kale. It tends to get a little bigger than some of the other salad greens that we like to grow, so we do it a little bit differently. For most of the times that we grow salad greens however, we like to use a two-container system.
Growing greens in containers is honestly just really convenient for daily harvesting and it makes it really easy to dig everything up and start again when one batch has reached the end of its life. I like to stagger my plantings so that I always have mature leafy greens ready to go. I plant in one container first, then plant the second container about two-to-three weeks later. We use these huge oak barrels that just stay out in our garden all year long and they’re the perfect size for us because we go through a ton of this stuff!
Planting salad greens couldn’t be easier. Most seeds should be planted at 1/8″ depth. That basically means that you dig up your soil and make it nice and friable, then you sprinkle the seeds evenly-ish over top. After that, just run your hand back and forth over the soil a few times to press the seeds down a bit and that’s usually enough. Water gently for three or four days and you should see your salad greens starting to grow!
Tip! Keep your soil soft and workable: The Creek Line House – The Secret to Perfect, Easy to Work With Garden Soil
You should be able to start harvesting your salad greens about 2.5-3 weeks after planting and you can keeping enjoying greens from the same plants for months if you’re lucky!
Harvest your greens frequently and keep an eye on them. If you see them starting to bolt and look like they want to go to seed, pinch the seed stalk off as soon as you notice it so you’ll be able to keep harvesting.
Tips to Help You Grow Salad Greens
There aren’t many problems to worry about with salad greens, but if you do run into any issues with pests, just dig the greens up in that one container and start again. If your leaves start to look sad, yellowish, or a little on the small side after a few weeks of heavy harvesting, dig it all up and start again for that issue too! Salad greens grow so quickly that it’s really easiest not to waste too much time fussing over them. Starting over and replanting is the best way to fix just about any issue in my experience. 🙂
With all of the different types of salad greens, it’s easy to extend your growing season to last almost all year if you plan for it correctly. Try growing heartier varieties early in the spring and late in the fall, and some of the more delicate varieties in the summer months (as long as you can water them frequently). If you really want to be ambitious, you can buy or build a cold frame where you can grow salad greens even when there’s snow outside!
Do you grow salad greens in your garden? What have been some of your favourite varieties?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.