Grow A Salad Garden
It’s easy to have healthy gourmet salads right at the kitchen door. The favor is much better than the bagged lettuce shipped from across the country. Salad ingredients can be grown in containers or in a garden bed, and the leaves ready to be harvested when you need them.
Lettuce is a cool season crop, spring and fall, as are many other salad greens and vegetables. It is best to make several small sowings instead of one large one. Keep the soil evenly moist, because dry soil leads to slow growth and bitter flavor. Below is a guide to salad ingredients, experiment to discover your favorites.
Looseleaf lettuce form loose heads that mature very quickly. They are easy to grow. Leaf color, shape and texture vary with variety.
Crisphead lettuce is the classic iceberg type, but is slow and difficult to grow.
Butterhead lettuce, also called bibb, form loose heads with soft texture.
Romaine lettuce has upright heads that shed water, so they are great when springs are wet. The hearts are very flavorful.
Arugula, also known as rocket, has a peppery flavor, and is best eaten with leaves are small.
Endive/Escarole is a lettuce-like green with a nutty and bitter flavor. The broadleaf type is known as escarole and the curly as endive.
Mache, also known as corn salad, the small, dark, tongue-shaped leaves are very tender and mild-flavored.
Mesclun is a blend of gourmet baby salad greens that can be mild, pungent or bitter, depending on the mixture.
Spinach is a dark-colored, uniquely flavored green with oval, smooth to crinkly leaves.
Swiss Chard, closely related to beets, produces greens throughout the growing season.
Carrots, baby or minis are sweet in salads and adds variety to the salad.
Cucumbers are cool, mild and refreshing. They add crunch to salads. A trellis or cage will be needed for this vining plant.
Peas, shell, snow, and snap peas are all sweet, crunchy additions. Sow very early in spring, needs support to hold the vines up.
Radishes are ready to pull in less than four weeks and add a crisp, zesty bite to the salad. Varieties differ in size, shape, and color. Leaves may be added as well.
Scallions, also called green onions, are a perennial, and is a wonderful addition to the salad. Chives may be used instead, taste is milder.
Turnips, slice or shred the sweet tender bulbs at 1-2 inches in diameter. The leaves may be used as well.