Grow Your Own Salad Garden

There are more reasons than ever to grow your own salad. You are in control of its organic status and therefore reducing your exposure to toxic pesticides. You can ensure no genetically-modified organisms are ever planted. You can maximize the nutritional value by adding compost to enhance soil and eat the salad ingredients almost immediately after picking them (a significant amount of nutrition is lost within the first 24 hours of picking produce).

You can do your part for the planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the growing and transportation of food. You can reduce the amount of money you give to greedy corporations who participate in unsustainable, land-depleting agricultural practices.

Honestly, these are just a handful of the reasons to grow your own salad garden. There are plenty of other reasons, including taste. Freshly-picked, homegrown food just tastes superior to its grocery store counterparts. So, where do you start? Itís easier and far more rewarding than you might think.

Grab some organic seeds and a garden bed or planter boxes or pots and a pair of gloves. Here are some of the best and easiest salad ingredients to grow:

Leafy Greens

Since no salad would truly be complete without some leafy greens, start by planting your favorites. You can select from a wide variety of greens. Theyíre all fairly easy to grow and you can get a relatively large harvest even from a small space. You can choose arugula for a peppery-tasting variety, spinach for a hearty green, kale to elevate your salad to superfood status, a spring mix for a variety of flavors, or butter lettuce or Romaine to have some classic varieties to choose from. They can all be sown indoors or be directly planted into garden spaces, pots or planters.

Spring is the ideal time to plant greens as they tend to grow best before the full heat of summer. Youíll want to spread the seeds out a bit (from 2Ē for spinach or 12Ē for arugula plants) unless youíre interested in growing baby greens. In that case, you can plant the seeds much closer together. Follow the package directions for the specific greens you choose. Most only need to be one-half inch deep, which means you can simply poke the soil with your finger and plant the seeds in the holes and then cover with soil. Once the leaves get started youíll want to keep a spray bottle of water with a splash of natural liquid soap on hand to spray the leaves and keep pests away.

Tomatoes

If youíve never eaten a home-grown tomato, youíre in for a real treat. They have a rich flavor and tend to lack the pulpy texture of many store-bought tomatoes. Unless you live in a climate with a fairly long growing season youíll want to buy organic bedding plants if you want to grow your own tomatoes. Plant outdoors once the last overnight frost has passed. Plant them in a sunny spot and water regularly. Be sure to choose organic varieties as there are some genetically-modified varieties; however, since they are not required to be labelled it is hard to differentiate the GMO tomato plants from other varieties. So, itís best to just be safe and choose organic bedding plants. Also, avoid non-organic varieties because they are often sprayed with toxic pesticides that kill bee populations and can have damaging health effects on humans and animals. Youíll want to stake the plants or use tomato cages as the plants get larger to help them stand upright.

Herbs

I love to keep an assortment of herb plants on hand to include directly in salads or to make delicious homemade herb salad dressings. For this purpose you can choose from basil, chives, cilantro, dill, green onions (technically a vegetable but used more like an herb), mint, oregano and rosemary (best in salad dressings). As far as Iím concerned, you really canít have too many herbs on hand and the more varieties the better.

They tend to be mostly care-free and pests tend to leave them alone (although they might enjoy your basil or mint plants a bit more than the others). They are easiest to grow from organic bedding plants, which are often available from your local farmerís markets this time of year. The herbs add a wonderful, unique flavor to your salads and dressings but also significantly kick up the nutritional and therapeutic value of your salads.

Other Add-Ins

Of course, there are many other foods you can grow to round out your salad garden. I love growing beets because I get the delicious beet greens and then can roast or grate fresh, raw beets into my salads. You can sow the seeds directly in the ground as they tend to be quite hardy and easy to grow. Carrots also make a nice appearance your salad garden since they can be grated and add a brilliant orange-color and a burst of beta carotene to your salads. Again, they can be sowed directly from seed into the ground and are quite easy to grow.

Radishes and cucumbers make excellent accompaniments for your salad garden. Sow radish seeds directly from seed or bedding plants. As for cucumbers, youíll probably want to grow them from organic bedding plants and plant them in a slightly larger garden bed so they have some space to spread out. The amount of space they need differs depending on the variety but youíll probably want to spread them at least a couple of feet apart to give them room to spread, which they need.

Related Stories:

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news Worldís Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, and an international best-selling and 20-time published health and cookbook author whose works include:†Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, & Cooking.

 

60 comments

Renata B
Renata B29 days ago

Doing something at present, but not much, I hope to be able to do more in the future. Thank you.

SEND
Ruth S
Ruth Sabout a month ago

Thanks.

SEND
Naomi D
Naomi Dreyerabout a month ago

Reminds me of the Victory gaardens we started in WWII

SEND
Paulo R
Paulo Rabout a month ago

ty

SEND
Caitlin L
Caitlin L4 months ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
Cindy S
Past Member 4 months ago

nice

SEND
Danii P
Past Member 4 months ago

Thanks for sharing

SEND
Danii P
Past Member 4 months ago

Thanks for sharing

SEND
Louise R
Louise R4 months ago

Thank you

SEND
Ruth S
Ruth S4 months ago

Thanks.

SEND