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


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.

More like this

Feta, beetroot & pomegranate salad

Salad recipes


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

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