Table of Contents

How to Grow a Salad Garden

The Super Simple Salad Box

If you’ve ever looked at a garden and thought “Oh, that’s not for me” or “That looks like too much work” or “I don’t have space for that,” you’re not alone. But we’re here to make the garden an ordinary part of your everyday life. With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to something I call the Super Simple Salad Box (SSSB for short). Should I get that trademarked?

Putting together your very own Super Simple Salad Box requires nothing more than – as the name suggests – a super simple setup in your outdoor space. No carpentry skills required! Fill your box with low-maintenance lettuce plants that you’ll be able to cut from again and again. So really, very little gardening skills required.

A salad box is proof of how much edible goodness you can actually grow with very little space, very little effort, and very little time. So, my friends, if you’ve been thinking about growing more greens or even starting your first garden, a salad box would be the perfect introduction to kitchen gardening.

Creating Your Salad Box

I have a 4ft x 4ft cedar bed in my backyard that my husband helped me build. It’s only one foot tall because salad greens don’t need a lot of vertical root space. You could actually put together a bed only 6 inches tall, so just use a piece of lumber on each side. If you don’t have room for a square box, you could build a rectangular garden of any size really. You could have a 2ft x 8ft box along the side of your fence, your driveway, your porch – anywhere you have a bit of space. That might sound small, but you can grow a lot of greens in 16 square feet of growing space.

You can find the steps to build this kind of raised bed for about $100 here. I use framing angles to create really nice, clean corners.

Lettuce plants love growing in soil that’s super rich in organic matter. Grab some bags of organic topsoil for raised beds and mix it with two bags of compost and one bag of coarse sand to improve drainage. Here’s how to calculate how much soil you’ll need to fill your salad box.

Lettuce loves cool weather. If you’re in a warmer climate and want to grow greens over the summer, I would recommend either placing your box in a shaded area or sticking with the best salad greens for heat, such as arugula, New Zealand spinach, mustard greens, and mizuna. Otherwise, it’s best to wait until the end of summer to start your lettuce mix for a fall harvest, then you can repeat in the spring.

Sowing and Caring for Your Salad Garden

To sow your garden, you can literally just scatter your seeds around the bed. Rake them into the soil to ensure each seed has good contact. It might seem like you’re sowing too many seeds, but a tight cluster of plants will actually provide great soil cover as they grow. Without exposed soil, the plants are less likely to get dehydrated due to evaporation. The soil around these little guys will stay nice and moist.

Give the seeds a good watering in. Within just 72 hours of planting my salad box, I typically see little sprouts popping up. I keep my Super Simple Salad Box covered at all times after I’ve sown lettuce seeds to deter flying pests, rabbits, squirrels, and two particularly curious dogs. Garden mesh, a thicker fabric than tulle, acts as an effective physical barrier against pests, especially for garden beds closer to the ground like this one. While it keeps out creatures that might nibble on your lettuce leaves, it still lets in sunlight, air, and water. Place a couple of garden hoops to support your garden mesh and then secure the mesh with plant tag holders or landscaping pins.

Lettuce is over 80% water, so be sure to give your salad plants a steady supply so that the bed never completely dries out. If you’re watering by hand, aim water at the roots rather than the leaves.

Harvesting Your Homegrown Salad

This is the fun part! Because I leave the garden mesh protecting my lettuce plants on at all times, coming out to harvest and pulling back the mesh to reveal what has been growing underneath adds an extra layer (pun intended) of excitement.

After 30 days of growing, the lettuce in your salad box will still be new and fresh. Don’t harvest too heavily from them just yet. You want to be able to cut and come again many times over. Take a clean pair of scissors and trim a little row of lettuce leaves, not too close to the roots, then skip a space. Think of it as almost making a patchwork quilt – do a spot, skip a spot, and then do the next one.

This makes space for new sets of leaves to grow in without leaving bald spots that would expose the soil. Remember, exposed soil = more weeds = more watering. You’re also helping increase air circulation around the plants since you’ve planted intensively.

If you give the remaining leaves a little shake when you’re done, you’ll barely even be able to tell you just came in and harvested enough leaves for a garden-fresh gourmet salad.

Here’s the best news: You can come back and do the same thing tomorrow! Throughout each week, I slowly make my way through the whole salad garden, and I can do this for as long as the weather stays below 90°F or so, and the leaves keep growing. I’ve found that I can harvest from lettuce plants at least three times before the flavor starts to change or the plant goes to seed. Learn more about the different ways you can harvest from your lettuce plants and what to do when they go to seed.

The Joys of Homegrown Salad

Cutting from my salad garden for weeks on end was really what got me into starting a garden company in the first place, especially when I realized that my friends were still buying grocery store lettuce. To me, store-bought lettuce tastes disgusting when compared to home-grown, not to mention that I don’t like thinking about how long it sat on a truck and then on the shelf, somehow without wilting.

Plus, I have lettuce for months from two packets of seed that probably cost me $3 – way more than I could get from a plastic container of spring mix that costs me twice as much at the grocery store.

Now that you’ve seen how simple it is to create your own salad box, I challenge you to start growing your own greens. Seriously, if you haven’t tried growing your own lettuce yet, it’s one of the easiest ways to get introduced to the kitchen garden.

Join me, my friends, on my mission to instate a salad garden revival. We’ve got so many resources here at Gardenary to get you started and to make organic salad gardening in your own little salad box super simple. I wish you many bountiful lettuce harvests and delicious organic salads in your future!

The Year-Round Indoor Salad Garden

But what if you don’t have an outdoor space for a salad box? No problem! You can grow lettuce indoors, even year-round, using Peter Burke’s unique indoor salad garden technique.

A very simple idea put Peter on the path toward growing a year-round indoor salad garden. He wanted fresh salad greens throughout winter, and he discovered a method that exceeded his expectations and eventually became his book, Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening.

Peter can now grow all the salad greens he needs for his family of four with just a kitchen cupboard and a windowsill. He doesn’t need lights, special equipment, or a greenhouse. His wife was used to him harvesting a wide variety of unusual salad greens, so when he started to harvest sunflower greens, pea shoots, buckwheat lettuce, and radish greens, she wasn’t too surprised, just amused.

He calls the greens “soil sprouts” because they grow quickly like traditional sprouts grown in a jar, but are grown in soil instead. The soil allows him to grow seeds with hulls, such as sunflower and buckwheat seeds, and maintains enough moisture for the plants to grow, so he only needs to water once a day.

Setting Up Your Indoor Salad Garden

You don’t need a big window with southern exposure to follow in Peter’s footsteps. One of the places he grows his greens is in a small northern window. His daily harvest is about 14 ounces of greens from five small 3-by-6-inch aluminum bread pans. Occasionally, he uses a larger 4-by-8-inch bread pan when he wants a double batch of greens.

Most of what you’ll need to grow soil sprouts is probably already in your kitchen. Peter mixes 1 quart of water to 1 gallon of the dry soil mix before planting. He has two 1-gallon plastic containers for the soil mix, a 3-cup container of compost, and a 1-cup container of sea kelp meal. He also keeps scoops, measuring spoons, and a few trays for planting.

The process is simple: soak the seeds, plant them in the moistened soil mix, cover with wet newspaper, and place them in a warm, dark place for 4-6 days. Then, move the trays into the light, and within 6-10 inches, they’ll be ready to harvest.

The Benefits of an Indoor Salad Garden

Peter’s indoor salad garden has surpassed every expectation and hope he had when he first started this project. An avid gardener and author, he has been teaching garden classes since 2006 and started The Daily Gardener, a shop that provides organic seeds for indoor gardening.

Growing lettuce indoors in winter, or even year-round, is a fantastic way to reduce your carbon footprint and eat local, even when the outdoor garden is dormant. With Peter’s method, you can have a consistent supply of fresh, nutritious salad greens without the hassle of maintaining an outdoor garden.

So, whether you have a small outdoor space for a salad box or you’re limited to a kitchen windowsill, there’s no excuse not to start growing your own gourmet salad greens. Get ready to enjoy the fresh, flavorful taste of homegrown lettuce and bid farewell to those disappointing store-bought greens forever!

Today’s Garden is Garden and Landscape Company, provides all you need about Garden and Landscape Design to get better garden decorations.

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