A gardener watering salad leaves in an allotment

Grow your own salad leaves

Enjoy eating homegrown salad leaves this season.

Salad leaves are one of the quickest and easiest crops to grow, ideal for sowing in pots, window-boxes or growing bags. We help you get started. For more expert advice on growing your own vegetables visit GardenersWorld.com.

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Getting started

  • If you’re planning to grow your plants in containers or window boxes, all you really need is a watering can.
  • You can treat yourself to a pair of gardening gloves, but they’re not essential.
  • If you want to incorporate your fruit, veg and herbs in a flower border, you’ll need a fork and a rake to prepare the seedbed, plus a hoe to create seed drills and keep the area weed-free.

You will need:

  • Flower pot
  • Something to provide drainage – broken pieces of polystyrene pieces of polystyrene packaging, bottle corks or washed stones
  • 1 bag of multi-purpose compost
  • Seeds – Try herb specialist Jekka McVicar’s ‘Tuscan’, ‘Eastern’ and ‘Jekka’s Choice Salad’ herb mixes, or ‘Saladsi’ herb and salad mix from Thompson-Morgan, or ‘Stir Fry’, ‘Braising Mix’ and the ‘Italian’ and ‘French salad mix’ blends from Organic Catalogue .
  • Watering can
  • Scissors
  • Pencil (optional)

When to plant…

In most areas, salad leaves can be sown and harvested from spring to autumn, and thrive in cooler condition; sow summer crops in the shade.
Have several pots at different stages for a constant supply, sowing the next crop when the seedlings in the previous pot begin to appear.

Let’s get going!

 1. Cover drainage holes in the bottom of a large pot with a 5cm (2in) layer of broken up polystyrene, bottle corks, or washed stones from the garden. Fill with multi-purpose compost to about 2.5cm (1in) below the pot’s rim. Level, then gently firm the surface with the palm of your hand or a block of wood.

Draw lines about 2.5cm (1in) deep with your finger or the top of a pencil and sow the seed thinly. Put the container on a sunny patio, then water, using a fine ‘rose’ on the watering can. Watch out for slugs – remove them by hand or use traps.

3. Harvest with a pair of scissors when the leaves are 2.5cm-7.5cm (1in-3in) tall. Once they are the required height, cut them carefully, to avoid damaging the smaller seedlings below.

Salad recipes

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For more inspiration check out our top 20 herb garden ideas for growing your own.