Recently, we talked about about how to plant an outdoor salad garden near the house, so you’d always be able to pick fresh lettuce and spinach for your meals. Well, it’s come to my attention – and I should have thought about this before – that many of you live in places where you have no ground available to plant on. Living in an apartment or high rise just makes it almost impossible to have easy access to workable ground, so let’s rethink how those of you “living on the vertical” can have a salad garden, too.
Growing in Containers
Containers are great. You can move them around to get the best sun, catch the rainfall on your patio, or even bring them inside during summer’s extreme heat! Pots and other containers are the way to go when you have little actual ground to farm on. Flower pots, pails, and just about anything you can get well-draining soil into, have many good points when it comes to raising lettuce, spinach and lots of other salad-type vegetables.
A few tips:
- Buy only the best potting soil. The quality of the growing medium matters!
- Timed release fertilizers plus water soluble fertilizers that you add with every watering are important with potted gardens.
- The container must drain well. It cannot hold water in the bottom, as this will cause the roots to rot, sure as anything.
- Watering is of utmost importance. Forgetting to water containerized plants for just one hot day can kill them! Potted plants more susceptible to drying out completely and dying, than are plants in the ground. So keep watering those plants faithfully, they’re depending on you!
Grow Your Own Salad
Leaf lettuces and spinach are so easy to grow, harvest, reseed and grow again that it’s odd more of us don’t do it. Use a pot or other container with as much open space to plant your crop as possible. A strawberry pot works well, since they have so many openings on the sides. A wide, long and low, but not too shallow pan also works well, but always allow the dirt to be at least 6 inches deep (the shallower the pot, the more important watering and proper fertilizing is). Another really cute container for a salad garden is a brightly-colored salad bowl: They’re just a few dollars in most stores, and with a few judiciously-paced holes in the bottom, drainage is perfect!
Harvesting Your Crop
How should you harvest the gorgeous leaves of lettuce and other leafy greens? You’ve got two choices: cut it or break it off above the ground, or pull it up by the roots. Lettuce, broken off, will regrow. When you pull it up completely, be ready to put more seeds right back into the soil at this spot.
Don’t forget to leave a plant or two to go to seed, so you’ll always have more seeds to plant! Lettuce flowers are very pretty, if small, so you could even break off part of the spike for decorative purposes as well.
Grow Spinach for Added Nutrition
Fresh leafy spinach is a great addition to any cook’s kitchen. Grabbing a few leaves of it to add to (sneakily) a child’s meal or to add raw to a salad is an easy way to boost your meals’ nutritional value. In fact, I always keep some spinach growing just for that purpose. The great thing about growing spinach in containers is that you can keep a pot of it right in your sunny kitchen window, where you don’t forget to keep it watered. I keep two pots: one growing, and one being harvested at all times.
You will see when you start this project that it is easier than you first thought it would be. The luxury of always having spinach and lettuce salad fixin’s at your fingertips is one you’ll always make sure you have!