So you want to start a salad bar garden? Me to!
There I was in Fred Meyer trying to decide between butter lettuce, Romain, or red leaf lettuce, knowing full well that the only one I would probably actually eat was the butter lettuce. I just don’t like the taste of store bought, and have you seen the size of them? They are TINY, and expensive. Then it hit me. Why haven’t I planted a salad bar garden on my back patio? Living in a small apartment does have its limits, but I have a patio. And I began my plan of action as soon as I got home.
All winter long I have been eating store bought lettuce, and you know that stuff does not taste great. Its also way too expensive. Now that winter has finally come to an end I really am out of excuses. I can’t sit on my butt, and dream about gardening anymore. It’s time. It’s been that time since like February, when I promised my box of heart shaped chocolate I was only going to eat one piece. Yeah, it’s so beyond time.
I also found the coolest salad bar garden planter for $119, completely ready to plant in and weather resistant.
Thinking about fresh greens and vegetables that you can get straight from your own yard isn’t brain science. We all like to enjoy a fresh salad during the summer months, but when we get all the fixings from the grocery store, not only can it be expensive but we cannot guarantee the freshness of the greens or where they came from. Home grown also tastes better. You know its true. I also get some kind of satisfaction from telling family members I grow my own veggies. It is kind of fun rubbing it in how much money I save by growing my own cucumbers, yellow necked squash, or GASP… organic tomatoes and red onions 😉
How to start a salad bar garden
First, if you are new to gardening you are going to want to take a look at my other garden topics here this is where I post about my veggie updates, and how to’s. By the end of the year I will be adding a video section as well.
The Plot Garden
In thinking about how much a large family will eat, if you’ve got the space definitely do a plot garden. You save the most, and it’s a fun project to do with the kids. In a 4 foot by 4 foot area an average of 4 to 5 greens and 6 vegetable plants will fit nicely into that space. When I have the space I like the grow my greens and vegetables in a raised garden bed, but they will grow in in the ground just fine. If you have no space for a garden, do not let that stop you. Below is plans for a Patio garden.
Purchase the 3 tier garden set up for a faster way to set up. Also great for tight spots. Amazon has this one for only $99 shipped, but prices can change at the drop of a hat.
The Patio Garden
A salad bar garden will grow in anything. Heck lettuce is actually one of the easiest plants to grow. Your green thumb could be black, and it would still grow for you. Just remember to water it, pick off the dead leaves, and harvest it whenever you want a salad. It’s just too easy. Get creative, and think outside of the box… eh hem, flower pot. Recycle laundry detergent buckets, soda bottles, PVC pipe, pallets, ect.
What to plant
We all like different things in our salads, but a salad garden needs variety. Spring mix lettuce, bibb lettuce, spinach, kale are all easy to grow. My favorite is butter lettuce, and I also really like spicy red leaf lettuce. There is also a seed mix called mesclun blend which contains a variety of greens and is very easy to grow, that I highly recommend.
You don’t want to forget about herbs. Herbs such as parsley, cilantro, and mint all make fun additions to a salad.
You can even throw in a few carrot and radish seeds. Remember vegetables tend to take a little longer to grow so plan accordingly.
Harvesting and Maintaining
You’ll want to decide if you want your salad bar garden to be organic or if you plan to use pesticides. It’s your decision, but I always grow organic.
The secret to succulent, tender greens is in its youth
I am just going to be honest. You wont find me eating a spinach salad. I don’t care if the leaves are baby or fully grown. Heck ,they could be coated in sugar and I still probably wouldn’t eat them. It’s just not going to happen. I am not a spinach fan unless its in a smoothie. But, not everyone is as picky as I am. Spinach is a great addition to a salad bar garden, and they are a high yield type of plant. Lettuce and spinach greens are best harvested in about 30 days. The leaves are still young and tender and the plants should be about 6 inches high.
There is some importance in how you harvest your greens
There’s going to be some upkeep for a successful salad bar garden. It is important to cut the leaves about 1 to 2 inches from the base of the plant to encourage regrowth. Keep your garden weed free and make sure it has plenty of water. A second seeding can be done in the late summer and early fall to keep the greens growing in the cooler months. Containers can also be moved inside and enjoyed year around.