At the supermarket you’ll notice that there are immense aisles of salads, both ready cut and packaged as well as small little plants that can be snipped off for instant use. Whilst you might think that you don’t have time to grow salads at home, these plants are extremely quick and easy to care for, and for a couple of pounds spent on seeds you can have a full summer and autumn of fresh greenery for your meals.
For the best results, and especially if you don’t want to spend much time looking after plants, look to buy packets of ‘speedy seeds’, ‘cut-and-come-again salads’ or a similar alternative. These are widely available in supermarkets and nurseries, and will only cost a few pounds. Seeds generally germinate within days, and in many cases you can be harvesting home grown leaves in only 14 to 21 days.
One of the best ways to grow these salads is in a container that is placed in a sunny and south facing aspect. Simply fill your container with a multipurpose soil, use a pencil to drill a small line along the surface, and scatter the seeds within. These can then be covered lightly with soil. If you sow one line a week, you’ll ensure that you get a succession of growth throughout the season, allowing you to constantly have new and fresh leaves to utilise.
After several days you’ll notice tiny green shoots appearing. Try not to water the seeds and seedlings directly as this can push plants together so that you end up with clusters of plants all fighting for nutrients in the same area. Instead, water into the side of the container, and the moisture will be drawn up by the soil and emerging roots.
After only a few weeks you’ll find that large leaves begin to grow, and it is these that can be snipped off and used in salads. Don’t pull up entire plants, but instead take a leaf or two from different specimens within the batch. This will give your salad crop time to continually grow new leaves which can be harvested. At some point plants will eventually stop producing, and at this stage the line of salads can be removed and new seeds sown.
Growing small salads at home really is this easy, and even if you only have a windowsill, speedy seeds can have great results. And, instead of having to constantly buy new salad crops, you’ll be able to harvest over the many months still to come this year.