Why You Need to Grow Your Own Salad Greens

Why You Need to Grow Your Own Salad Greens
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There is something so rewarding about eating food that you have grow yourself.  It is almost like the since of satisfaction from creating a piece of art and carrying it through from start to finish.  I think this sense of satisfaction is part of the reason that homesteading, DIY projects, and making food from scratch have become so popular.  We love to take ownership over the things that can positively change our lives.  And growing your own produce can have an amazing impact on your life.

Today I want to talk to you about some of the easiest produce to grow as a beginner: salad greens. Salad greens are actually really fast growing plants that can thrive almost anywhere. Don’t have a big yard or porch? Not a big deal. Never kept a living thing alive in your life? I promise,  you can.

The thing I love about growing my own salad greens is that these hearty little plants require so little from me.  I am notorious for being a lackadaisical weeder and forgetful waterer but these little guys love me back and continue to thrive. Case in point: this years salad greens were planted in a pot, placed in some sun, watered like twice (in the two months), and are still thriving.

All you need to grow salad greens are, a flower pot, some seeds, and a sunny spot (a window ledge or front stoop will do just fine).

Grow Salad Greens Step One: Buy your seeds 
 
  Now when it comes to selecting your seeds I have found that leaf lettuce (confusing I know because all lettuce is leaves but I’m talking about the individual leaf lettuce not iceberg) and arugula seem to do the best in a flower pot.  These are actually my favorite kinds of leafy greens to make salads with so it works out perfectly for me!
I typically buy by seeds from a local farm store. Many brands even sell premixed salad options like this beautiful romaine mix from Burpee:

Salad mixes are a great option because then you can grow a variety that would well together as a salad without having to pick out multiple seed packets.  I also love mixes because the variety in color and texture looks pretty in a flower pot on my deck.
If you want to grow spinach, iceberg, or even cabbage for that matter I would suggest finding a place in the yard to till and start a garden there.  I love baby spinach, but it just doesn’t do well in a pot. This is because spinach requires cooler temperatures to grow. Keeping spinach in a pot in the summer will heat the roots warmer than they would like to be. I will be talking more about traditional garden patches in a post coming soon!
Grow Salad Greens Step Two: Planting 
 
Just like the potted fresh herbs in one of my previous posts (read about them here!) I like to plant multiple kinds of leafy greens in the same planter or pot.  I just think this gives a prettier look with depth and dimension when the plants are growing. If you are using a salad mix the “hard” work of blending different types of leafy greens has been done for you. Planting salad greens is super simple, the seed packet will include instructions on the back. But basically you want to fill your planter with good soil (I just stole some from my garden, but you could buy an organic potting or garden mix). Then plant the seeds SUPER shallow, salad greens have very tiny seeds that don’t want to fight too hard to reach the soil surface for sun.
 
Here is another pro tip for growing your own DIY Salad Mix: plant multiple pots! While yes it is true that leafy greens tend to grow faster than other produce, when you harvest the greens you are essentially harvesting the entire plant.  This means that the next time you want to make a salad, the leafy greens may not be be big enough to harvest.
If you have multiple pots you can harvest one and allow the others to grow back before cutting them again.
 
Grow Salad Step Three: Tender Loving Care
Just check on your plants throughout the season.  Salad likes to have a sunny spot in the yard, but if they start to wilt or look scorched, give them some water and move them to a spot with a little less sun.
 
Grow Salad Step Four: Harvest
 
You will know when it is time to harvest your leafy salad greens when the leaves have reached the size of the leaves you would typically see in a garden salad.  I know, I know, that wasn’t very specific but there aren’t really strict rules when it comes to harvest time for leafy plants.  I also trust that as someone in at least their younger adult years you have seen a salad at some point in your life.
Harvest your plants using kitchen shears or scissors to cut the leaves.  I usually try to leave about an inch of plant at the base to give the plant a bit of a head start when it comes to growing back.
Like I said though, you really can’t go wrong here.  A little early or a little late, the leaves should still end up okay. And if you find that the leaves went too long and are bitter, just know to harvest the next round sooner.  Which brings me to my final instruction….
Grow Salad Mix Step Five: Repeat
 
Since lettuce has such a quick turn around time, you can plant another crop throughout the summer.  Ideally when you harvest the leaves you would have left enough of the plant at the base so it begins to regrow, but if not just removed the leftover roots from the pot and start again!

Basically you need to grow your own salad mix because it’s too east not too! Usually a packet of seeds cost about the same as a head of lettuce from the grocery store or famers market, and will yield multiple crops of lettuce. And you can enjoy crunching on your fresh leaves knowing they weren’t treated with chemicals or fertilizer. I hope you enjoying growing your own food as much as I do.  Do you have a favorite kind of salad recipe that you plant on using your DIY Mix for? Let me know in the comments!



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