Salads make great summer meals and are a tasty addition to your lunchbox or dinner table any time of the year. They make the perfect light meal and you know you should be getting more leafy greens in your diet.
Why not start growing your own lettuce so you have a steady fresh supply of greens at your fingertips. It’s a lot easier than you think and there are some very good reasons why you should grow your own salad.
Eat Your Greens: Growing Salad Bowls will examine :
- 3 Reasons To Grow Your Salad
- Grow Your Salad Indoors
- Salad Bowls 101
- Tasty Greens To Grow
3 Reasons To Grow Your Salad
It Tastes Better
Let’s start with the obvious one first. Homegrown salad just plain tastes better. It is fresh, it has been grown in good soil, and it hasn’t been washed, sprayed, and processed days before it makes it on your plate.
If you haven’t had fresh, homegrown lettuce before, you’re in for a treat. If you need a little more convincing get your hands on some fresh lettuce from a gardening friend or your local farmers market. You’ll be ready to grow your own after the first bite.
You Control The Quality And Variety
One of the best parts of growing your own produce is that you control what goes in the soil and the plants. And you get to pick what varieties you want to grow. That means you have a lot more options than what your local grocer offers.
Grocery store produce varieties are grown for easy and uniform growth and longer shelf-life. Flavor and nutrition aren’t the main concerns. The opposite is true when you grow your own. You can pick varieties that taste amazing, but may not last more than a few hours in the fridge after you harvest them.
Last but not least, your home-grown salad will be a lot healthier. Nutrients quickly start to deteriorate after produce is harvested. When you grow your own, you can go from soil to table in less than an hour. It doesn’t get any fresher than that, which means you get more of the vitamins in your food.
Plus since you control the soil, the additives, and anything that happens to the plans while they grow, you can limit your exposure to pesticides, insecticides and the likes. When you grow organic, you know it actually is organic.
Grow Your Salad Indoors
It doesn’t take a lot of space or soil to grow your own lettuce and you can do it inside, on your kitchen counter or in a sunny window.
The nice thing about lettuce is that most varieties don’t need a lot of space or soil to grow and they grow fairly fast. Lettuce also tends to grow well in temperatures that we’re most comfortable at in the house. As long as you find a nice sunny spot for your lettuce it will do well.
One of the simplest ways to start if you just want to try this out is to cut of the ends of your romaine lettuce from the store and sit them in a cup or container with a little water. Leave it in there for about a week or until you start to see new green growth coming from the cut end, and roots forming at the bottom. Once those roots are about an inch or two long, plant your new lettuce plant into a bowl or small pot filled with potting soil. Keep it watered and in a sunny window and watch your lettuce grow. You can cut and regrow more lettuce several times.
Another fun option is to get lettuce seedlings at your local home and garden center. They will usually keep them stocked in the spring and depending on your local growing season again in late summer or early fall. Again, just grab a pot or an old bowl, fill it with good potting soil and plant your lettuce. It won’t take long before it grows enough that you can start to harvest.
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Salad Bowls 101
You can repurpose an old traditional salad bowl to grow your lettuce in. Glass bowls don’t work as well since it’s impossible to add drainage holes in the bottom. Your wooden bowls should work well though as do ceramic planter bowls or even pots you’re no longer using for potted plants. The basic idea is simple. You get a bowl or pot, fill it with potting soil, and plant your salad and salad fixings. A salad or lettuce bowl can include several different varieties of lettuce and a few of your favorite herbs. Or you can divide everything up in several different containers and grow a small tomato plant and a few green onions as well. Mix and match as you see fit, depending on what you like to eat.
Lettuce plants don’t have very deep roots, which is why shallow bowls work perfectly for planting them indoors. And since it won’t get super-hot – even in a sunny window- you don’t need a large amount of soil to retain moisture. In other words, shallow bowls are a great way to grow a large amount of lettuce in little space or soil. To get started, get a nice shallow planting bowl and a bag of quality potting soil that includes a slow release fertilizer appropriate for vegetables. Or if you’re composting already, well-aged compost would make a rich organic way to fertilize your lettuce. Get them started, watch them grow and harvest once they grow to maturity. Last but not least, eat and enjoy
Tasty Greens To Grow
Loose leaf lettuce is a good option when you want to be able to continually harvest greens for your salads. You can pick up seedlings at your local garden center and plant a few different varieties in your bowl. Or pick up a few different pack of seeds, divide the bowl into sections and sprinkle seeds from each variety in a different area of the bowl. Not only will using different varieties make it look pretty, each plant grows at slightly different rates and has different nutrients, helping you make the most out of your salad bowl.
Of course you’re not limited to just loose leaf lettuce. You can also grow spinach, green onions and various herbs in containers inside. Mix and match them in your bowls, or set up separate little containers to grow your favorite salad herbs in. If you have enough room, you can even grow some radishes to cut up and add to your salad.
Start with a few different varieties of loose leaf lettuce like oak leaf, butter oak, red sails, or the aptly named red salad bowl. Romaine lettuces also work well and will regrow after you cut the leaves. If you like a slightly peppery taste, don’t forget about arugula.
Mix and match varieties until you find a combination that grows well for you and you like to eat. Water your plants, fertilize occasionally with an organic fertilizer and refresh the soil every few month. If you harvest and replant on an ongoing basis, you may never run out of fresh lettuce for your kitchen table.
With a little bit of experience, you’ll get the timing down perfectly for your particular types of lettuce, the rate they grow, and how much you’re harvesting for the kitchen. It won’t take you long to figure out a rhythm that allows you to have a never ending supply of greens to enjoy!