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.
- 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
- 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.
- Late summer green salad
- Poached beef fillet with watercress & walnut salad
- Spring salad with watercress dressing
- Spring leaf salad
For more inspiration check out our top 20 herb garden ideas for growing your own.