Summer is the time to harvest your own salad and there is nothing like eating your own homegrown food. It is totally true what gardeners say, and that is, homegrown tastes best! At this time of year, when you grow your own food, you’ll find plenty of harvests from squash to brassicas, onions, fruit and delicious summer salads. To make sure you get the most from your space, here are some ideas for sowing, growing and harvesting your salads.
Why you should grow your own salad
Growing your own salad is really easy, and especially for beginner gardeners, it is a great place to start when growing your own food. The ideal thing about growing salad is that most can be grown in small spaces, in pots and containers and even on windowsills, so space isn’t a problem. Most salads are sown from spring through summer and harvested just a few weeks later, depending on what you are growing. Sow into a good quality peat-free compost and keep moist. If you start salads off before the last frost in spring, the seeds and plants will need protecting with a cloche or horticultural fleece. A greenhouse or polytunnel is ideal.
Know what type of salad to grow
There are so many to choose from. You could try the following:
- Lambs, Lettuce or a well-known Iceberg.
- Lollo Rossa is a popular red lettuce, or there’s even one that was grown in space called ‘Outredgeous’!
- Then there is spinach, mustard, pak choi, various types of radish and spring onions.
All can even be grown in the same container if needed.
How to grow all year to harvest your own salad
There is some lettuce that can be grown over the colder months with some protection, such as ‘Winter Gem’ and oriental greens such as mizuna and mustard greens, along with Endive and Salad Burnet. Alternatively, grow microgreens which are essentially just the seedlings of many edible plants. Grow cress, herbs, peas, radish, chard, beetroot and many more in trays on a light windowsill and harvest them when they are no taller than 10cm—packed full of nutrition.
Know when to harvest your own salad
In warm weather or if plants get stressed, they will go to seed very quickly. This means they will shoot up, flower and seed. This is their natural life cycle, but if they do that, the salad will likely taste bitter - but you can collect the seeds for resowing. If you are growing cut-and-come-again salads, you definitely want to keep on top of harvesting, so they carry on growing. Mostly just keep on harvesting and enjoying your harvests. Successionally sowing means sowing at about two weekly intervals.