Now that Summer is upon us, its a time for those outdoor barbeques and outdoor snacks or lunches and one of the easiest meals to prepare for these occasions, has to be a salad of some description, either as full meal or a side plate. So if we have a garden of some description or perhaps some raised beds for our growing needs, having leafy greens is a must have and these would be in great demand during most or all of the summertime months. Growing salads in raised beds is a reletavily easy task, little or no maintenance is required in the growing and cultivating of these and if perhaps, we are just starting out on our first exciting gardening adventure, these come highly recommended.
Lets start at the beginning of a salad plant’s journey and see its life story from garden to table. Whether we have raised beds or say an open garden out back, this is our starting point and we are good to go from here. Take lettuce as an example and which is one of the staple elements of a salad meal and is probably one of the easiest vegetables that we could ever decide to grow.
How to sow and grow lettuce;
As soon as the the soil in our garden beds have dried up to an acceptable level, we can plant this vegetable. Seed for this veg. is available online or at all garden centres. The instructions are always on the package and its really easy to sow lettuce seeds. Some expert gardeners or professionals, may start these seeds indoor in seed trays and then after a few weeeks transplant these out in their gardens. This can be done as soon as the seedlings have reached a certain height or as soon as there are 3-4 leaves on each stem.
The other option is to sow straight into our outdoor garden and this is a very easy exercise, less work than say starting them indoors and then replanting outdoors. Just make a little furrow or indent in the garden and keep a straight line for efficiency purposes. Sow thinly into this row and cover over with approx 1-2 inches of soil. Water and we are done, that’s about the size of this challenge…how easy is that, I ask you. A few weeks later after the seeds have germinated, thin out so that we have one seedling every 8 -10 inches and also have the rows approx 12 inches apart, to allow plenty room for the lettuce to grow and flourish.
Onions, spring onions or scallions;
Let’s now look at scallions or spring onions and see what’s involved in the growing of these vegs. and what level of work is required. Again, just like lettuce preparation and sowing, we do something similar. Make a row with our finger about 1 inch deep and sow these seeds rather thickly, so as to allow for the odd seedling that may fail, cover over with our hand and we are done. That’s about the amount of work required for this and for most of the salad vegetables, that we would wish to have in our gardens. Spring onions are one of the most versatile vegetable plant that we could grow in our gardens. We could grow these in flower pots, planting containers, all types of back gardens and so on. These could be planted inbetween other vegetables like cabbages, lettuces and the like. They don’t require much room, very little or no maintenence and just a little watering at the start.
The onions on the other hand require a different method of planting and again, it’s a very easy task. The seeds for this vegetable are known as ‘sets’ and are semi-started for our benefit, ie, the growth process has been started already in the nurseries. When we accquire these from the garden centre, they appear about the size of a hazelnut or a peanut in the shell. Its a case of then planting them in the ground, root down and the stem upwards, cover with about an inch of soil and that’s all the work that’s associated with this vegetable.
Growing other salads.
For chard or beetroot, its a case of more of the same, we just plant out the seeds in rows, cover over with approx 2-3 inches of soil, water-in and we are done. These seeds are again available at all of our garden centres and nurseries and are also available for purchase online. After those we can sow spinach, chives, rocket and a host of other varieties that are pretty easy to sow and very easy to grow.
Ensuring continuity with our salads;
In order to have a bountiful supply of veggie greens and salads, there is a little extra labour and maintenance required, that will give us a constant sulpply for our kitchen table right throught most of the year. Its known as continual harvest and is not as complicated as one might think. There are a couple of methods to this system of gardening and its not overly difficult to do.
Firstly, after sowing some of the salads that we covered above, its a case of rinse and repeat. Just do the same exercise about one month later, ie, sow the same crops of salads on or near the first lots of veggies. This will maintain a constant supply of salads throughout the summer and guarantees freshness. If we could do this say, twice or three times over the year, this will be a great addition to our kitchen pantry.
Secondly, there is a system or method that’s known as ‘cut and come’ and is only applicable to certain vegetable varieties. This is where we just slice off a few leaves of lettuce according as we need them. The lettuce plant then sprouts or grows new fresh leaves to replace the old ones. Again the same for the chard, just cut-off a few stems and leave to regrow new ones. We can do the same for cabbages, kale and a few other varieties and is a great way of preserving our salad greens.
I trust that this information has been useful and as usual, we are a social lot here at buildingraisedbeds.com. if you have any comments or questions on any of the above, feel free to use the box below. We will respond to any queries in due course.
Happy gardening to all
Cheers Phil Browne.