Looking back over my life’s wisest decisions, gardening-wise, I’d have to say learning to keep a bed of salad greens growing near my kitchen door is one of the best ones. The nutritional pleasure of being able to walk outside and pick enough fresh spinach to quickly add it to a sandwich, or steam for a baby’s lunch is immense. (You moms know what nutritional pleasure is, right? Finally getting the kids to eat healthy foods!) Equally enjoyable is always having a salad for the picking right there in your yard.
Edible Landscaping! Why Not?
To this day, I don’t understand why people put so much work into non-edible landscaping of their yard and so little into keeping food growing around their homes! I hope to help reverse this trend – and what better way than to introduce the idea of planting a little salad garden amongst the flowers? Planting leaf spinach and leaf lettuce in a worked-up bed underneath the trees in your yard allows shade to guard the tender leaves during summer’s harsh sun. It also makes an attractive planting that can be reseeded as it thins to keep it growing.
How to Prepare and Plant the Salad Garden
No, you can’t just sprinkle lettuce seeds in the lawn, and expect it to grow. Ok, you can, but you probably won’t get a great harvest. Instead, you’ll need to clear the ground and get that dirt ready for planting!
Remember, in the spring and fall, when the sun is not so strong, direct sunlight is a good thing for greens but in the heat of summer, if there is not shade they won’t grow very well. So if you can position your kitchen garden to where trees offer shade during the hotter times but more sunny in spring and fall, that would be a perfect location.
- Clearing the grass: If you’re going to use part of your lawn as your garden area, use a shovel and remove the grass by shallowly scooping out the grass, roots & dirt – about three or four inches down. You can either put the sod in another part of your yard that could use it the extra ground cover, or put it in the compost pile – whichever you choose, you don’t want the roots to continue growing in your garden area.
- Now, it’s time to dig up that dirt! You can either use a shovel to dig up and turn over the dirt, about a foot deep – pulverizing it thoroughly to give the roots room to move, or find someone with a tiler to till it up for you. If you have any compost or fertilizer, apply it before you start breaking the soil, to mix it in thoroughly. Once the soil is thoroughly tilled up and the lumps of dirt are broken down, you’re ready to plant your seeds.