Have you ever wished that you could just go into your kitchen and gather the ingredients for a garden salad even when it’s cold outside? Maybe your home is not in an area where you have available garden space outdoors. You can still grow a delicious salad!
Even if you have never tried to grow anything before you can be successful in growing a beautiful green garden salad – indoors! Many of the ingredients that you need can be grown easily in your kitchen window! All you need are a couple of flower pots or other similar containers and a nice sunny spot. As long as the weather is nice and provided you have access to a garden spot, your vegetables will do well outside but in colder months or if you live in an area where there is no access to an outdoor garden spot you can still grow a salad.
Choose which vegetables you want to plant. Seeds can be purchased from a local farm and garden center or from a number of seed companies found on the internet. You might want to purchase a few extra packets so that you will have plenty for replanting as your vegetables mature and are harvested. There are online companies where seeds are available for purchase all year round but keep in mind that many only ship in season.
The type of containers you use should be chosen according to the amount of vegetables you want to grow and the space you have available. They should also have good drainage and an attached bottom bowl or you can set them down in a plastic tray to catch any excess water. I like to use long narrow planters because they have the capacity to hold a lot of vegetables without taking up much space. Fill these to about 2 inches from the top with potting soil.
The main ingredient in any good salad is lettuce and you may want to devote a good part of your planting space for just lettuce. Black-seeded Simpson, Oak Leaf and Mesclun are good green loose-leaf varieties. To add some color, try a red lettuce such as Red Fire or Ruby. Sprinkle the seeds around on top of the dirt in your container and cover with about a half-inch layer of potting soil.
There are several good varieties of carrots that will do well inside. The best will be those that grow shorter like Orbit and Thumbelina. These seeds should be planted 1 ½ to 2 inches apart to allow for room to grow. Radishes also can be planted 1 ½ to 2 inches apart. Cherry Belle and Early Scarlet Globe are small round varieties and will grow well in the same container as the carrots. Both radishes and carrots are root plants and produce a green top, which can also be used as a garnish or chopped up in your salad.
Tomatoes are a little more difficult to grow indoors but with the proper amount of sunlight and care you will be able to grow healthy plants and get a good yield. Smaller red varieties such as Sweet Million and Mountain Belle are ideal for salads and for container growing. The plants are dwarf and the fruit is cherry size. They produce large quantities per plant so even two or three plants will yield a good amount of tomatoes.
You may also enjoy small yellow tomatoes in your salad. They are not only pretty and add color to your bowl but the yellow tomato has less acid than the red so it provides a slightly different taste as well. There is a Yellow Pear variety, which just as its name suggests, is yellow and pear-shaped. For a small round yellow tomato try Cherry Gold.
Spinach leaves are a favorite of mine to add to a garden salad. They are also fairly easy to grow in a container. There are several good varieties including Indian Summer, Winter Bloomsdale (which is a crinkle-leaf variety), and Vienna. Plant the seeds about ½ inch deep and cover with potting soil.
Keep the soil in your containers moist but not wet. When the seeds begin to sprout they will grow toward the light so every two or three days turn the container around. This will strengthen the plants by keeping them continually growing up, not at an angle and easily broken.
If your plants take on a yellowish color or don’t seem to be growing well, you can put a sprinkle of plant food in the dirt and water it in. This will promote growth and help your plants remain healthy.
Depending on the amount of indoor space you have to devote to your salad garden and your preference of salad ingredients there may be other vegetables you would like to try growing. A narrow table placed in front of a window or even a warm spare bedroom with ample sunlight will provide you with some extra space. Growing your own salad will give you an interesting hobby and add nutrition to your diet.