For around $10 you can grow fresh salad fixings to harvest for months
We are eating salads most every night now. They’re healthy and I love the variety, a different mix of greens each night. The fixings can get expensive, especially if I want to eat organic. Here’s a simple way to grow some of your salad over the next few months and save a bunch of money. Learn to grow salads in pots & tubs.
Growing in tubs is small space gardening at its best. In the square foot method, you can plant leaf lettuce plants every 6 inches, four plants per foot. (I probably put mine even closer, I’m a plant crowder). Loose leaf lettuce in pots will give you big yields and allow you to cut as much as you want, when you need it. Romaine type heads will also work, because you will be able to eat the outer leaves and allow the head to continue growing. Iceberg type lettuce will not work well for this tub method.
You will need four simple things to grow salads in pots:
- A pot or tub that will hold at least 4 inches of potting soil. I use inexpensive clear tubs from the store and drill holes in the bottom for good drainage. Any kind of plastic or ceramic pot will work. Think wide and shallow.
- Leaf lettuce starts (for a quick harvest) or a package of loose leaf lettuce seed.
- Quality potting soil – it’s all about the soil! Get a light airy mixture, something recommended for growing in pots. Use organic potting soil, if possible. Why go through all the trouble and put chemicals on it!
- Fertilizer – Lettuce will require nitrogen to grow tender new leaves. Try a well-balanced 5-5-5 natural fertilizer. Lettuce is quick growing, so only one application should be needed.
Planting in pots and tubs will give you quick access to your harvest. My tub is on the deck, in a place that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. I can walk out and get what I want for tonight’s salad. What could be easier?
What kind of lettuce should you grow?
Seeds for Generations has Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce and heirloom variety with large, loose, light-green, lightly crumpled leaves that is a popular standard among green-leaf lettuces. Its inner leaves blanch nearly white. The plant is large and upright, and is slow to bolt. It withstands heat, drought, and frost and matures in 40-65 days.
Dark Lolla Rossa lettuce is one of the most deeply curled loose-leaf lettuces. Beautiful magenta leaves with light green bases. It has a mild flavor and the plant, when cut will continue to put on new leaves. Sow spring or fall, maturity 45-75 days.
There are several Butterhead types like May Queen, which is a loose-heading lettuce with dark green leaves that are a bit thicker than those of iceberg lettuce. Butterheads develop a light yellow, buttery appearance and are very attractive in salads. It matures in 60 days, but you can begin picking leaves much earlier.
A miniature variety of butterhead, Tom Thumb, is very easy to grow and has a short growing season, about 34 days to maturity.
Romaine is also a very nutritious lettuce that deserves attention. It too is relatively easy to grow, forming upright heads with rather wavy, attractive leaves. Depending on the type you choose, you can have a harvest in 33-65 days.
You can find specialty seeds in any nursery or home improvement store. Look for words like “compact leaf” and “loose leaf” and harvesting by snipping off the outer leaves.
Several other “salad fixings” grow well in pots. I planted chives in between my lettuce varieties, so I can cut a bunch and harvest. You might want to add these to your tubs too:
- Bunching onions
- Swiss chard
- Broccoli raab
Watch out for caterpillars and slugs, they can destroy your crop in an evening! Ground eggshells will discourage slugs, see Slug it Out! Natural Solutions for other options and several of these natural remedies will deter caterpillars.
Why not take the time to grow your own specialty salad mix in pots and tubs? You will save time, money and eat healthy this summer. You”ll be glad you did.