Growing a salad garden is something I do every year because it’s so easy, fresh and it saves me so much money and time. Eating salad almost every day is a delicious way to clean up your food intake. If not for dinner, then reach for it at lunchtime. It’s my fast food, especially if I’m overdue for my weekly grocery shop. Grab a basket and head straight to the veggie patch. The main thing to remember about making it last throughout the season, is to make sure you stagger your planting with the produce that has a limited life cycle.
Planting your salad garden in good soil is a must! Plants will grow in average conditions, but your babies will look, taste and produce better if they are nourished from the get go. Soil needs to be full of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and micro nutrients for the vegies to grow & produce nutrient dense fruit. Organic soil from your local nursery will do the trick.
Choosing what to plant in your salad garden is the easy bit. Think about what you like in a salad and plant that. My greatest success has always come from ornate lettuce, cherry tomatoes (heirloom), cucumbers, capsicum, spring onions, beetroot & baby leaf spinach, but you can grow what ever floats your boat!
Protecting your babies. Keeping an eye on your salad garden will not only protect it from the elements, it will help you keep on top of the pests. Don’t be fooled by thinking the moths and butterflies have chosen your neighbours crop and missed yours. As soon as your back is turned they are laying their eggs, and they are so small you can’t see them even with your glasses on – trust me! The best strategy is defence not attack. If you keep ahead of them you will win the war. When it comes to a veggie patch, defend it like it’s your own child! Fine netting over seedlings, slug & snail beer traps, spraying with garlic/chilli mix or an organic oil is your best defence. Best advice – don’t get complacent; check, remove, check again.
Help them grow by feeding them. Keep the soil from drying out and mulch around the base. Like any baby, care for them right, and they will be the best adults they can be! Use an organic liquid fertilizer (or equivalent) every 3-4 weeks, just to boost them along. The results will speak for themselves.
Harvesting your salad garden is the best part. Don’t harvest all at once. Pick sparingly and your produce will last. Share with friends and family, and most of all get the kids involved. If they are part of the plant life cycle, you will find they might enjoy being part of the consumption as well.
- The plants that need to be staggered are tomatoes & cucumber.
- Choose a few different varieties of tomatoes to plant, as they look so bright and colourful in a salad.
- Lettuce is generally a veggie that you only pick once, so I plant 6-8 lettuces every 2-3 weeks. Otherwise I just have to much.
- Spring onions and beetroot are the same. You need to give them time before you plant the next crop.
- Baby leaf spinach can be harvested, and capsicum’s are picked off the plant, so as long as you have a few plants in, your produce should continue throughout the season.
Enjoy the crunch!