Sunny Summer Salad Leaves – Why Not Grow at Home?
The summer’s almost here again and has once again brought along delightful daydreams of sunny salads in the garden, just as long as the good weather holds out. What few seem to realise however is how easy and rewarding it can be to grow salad leaves at home, which not only leads to a small fortune in savings over the summer but also provides the whole family with gorgeously organic produce.
Salad leaves may come across as delicate, but in gardening stakes they’re about as hardy as it gets. They cost almost nothing to get started with, they’re among the easiest vegetables of all to grow and their growth is so prolific that a single plant can keep on giving and giving indefinitely. You can choose between container gardens, indoor gardens or standard vegetable plots anywhere the conditions satisfy the leaves you’d like to grow.
The satisfaction of heading out in the garden with nothing but a pair of scissors and returning with a fresh seasonal salad is second to none – why deny yourself such a unique pleasure?
Choosing the Best Location
As mentioned, the whole of the garden and much of your home’s interior really is your oyster when it comes to growing salad leaves. And even where space isn’t exactly in abundance, salad leaves make the most wonderful gap-fillers to place between existing plants, or can be used to create edible borders around flower beds. They’ll even play a role in ensuring that the usual weeds and unwelcome arrivals have a harder time in coming back year after year.
In terms of sunshine, it’s no secret that salad leaves are big time sun-worshippers, but this doesn’t mean they won’t thrive in an area that’s shaded for a sizeable part of the day. The amount of space you need will vary in accordance with the type of plant you’re growing, but as a rule of thumb you should allow around 10cm on all sides. So if you’re planning to plant in a container or tub, make it about 20cm in diameter.
Sowing and Growing
Salad leaves are wonderfully simple in that the place you sow them will be the place they remain for life – no moving or replanting required. When you find a suitable spot, ensure the soil is of high quality with all debris removed, weeds taken out and high-end organic compost added. It’s then a case of creating trenches of 2cm depth and sprinkling the salad seeds in them accordingly. Gently cover the seeds and water well, without going OTT and drowning them.
Note: All salad leaves require slightly different amounts of space and in some cases planting depths, so be sure to check the seed packet carefully. Sowing times also vary, though generally fall between the months of May and October.
From then on, it’s simply a case of watering in accordance with instructions and patiently awaiting the fruits of your labour. In terms of pruning, the salads you’ll be eating require little maintenance, though it’s a little-known fact that you should always use scissors when taking off any leaves to eat. This encourages faster and fully regrowth – tearing on the other hand can stunt the plant’s development.