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Mixed oriental leaves are excellent addition to a mixed salad. The mixture includes pak choi, mizuna, perilla etc. Very easy to grow and very fast growing leaf vegetables. You can have a small box of fresh salad leaves growing on your windowsill all year around.
When was the last time you had fresh-from-the-garden salad greens? If it has been awhile (if at all) then it’s time to start growing your own salad bar.
When most people think about salad, the first thought that comes to mind is lettuce. Don’t be fooled into thinking that’s all there is. There are so many more types of greens one can use, with Pak Choi, Mizuna and Perilla, just to name a few.
No matter your choice of greens, the first step is to decide where you are going to grow them. One common method is to grow them in a traditional garden. When doing so, it is important to remember they are generally cool weather crops. What this means is it is advisable to direct seed them as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. Most leafy vegetables prefer the coolness of spring and early summer. When it becomes too hot, the plants will often bolt to seed and will be bitter to the taste.
Another method is to plant your seeds into a raised garden bed. This will allow for earlier planting time, as the soil in raised beds warms sooner than in a traditional garden plot. The soil can be worked earlier with hand-held garden tools, which gives you a jump on the growing season.
Method number three is to build a cold frame. This is generally a wooden box placed on the ground on the south side of your home or other building. The top of it is angled toward the sun, and covered with an often-recycled window frame. The sun passes through the glass and warms the soil inside the box. The temperature inside the cold frame is often several degrees warmer than on the outside. It is quite common for the growing season to be extended four weeks or more, depending on your climate.
The fourth method is to sow the seeds in a planter or window box inside your home. All you need is a window that gets at least six hours of direct sun per day. By placing the planter as close to your window as possible you will avoid the spindly leaves that will inevitably result from low light conditions.
Method number five is for those who do not have a south-facing window. With the advancements in technology, the gardening world has not been left in the dark. There are several lights on the market to help low-light dwellers grow their own miniature gardens inside their homes. These fixtures range from a desktop model to a free-standing system with several levels, which can produce a bumper crop.
No matter your garden size or layout, there is always room for salad. As leafy greens are an above-ground crop, you can grow a large variety in a shallow planter. By purchasing a mixture of seeds, you will get the variety that makes a salad taste great. Even if the seed mixture you buy has some varieties you have never heard of, don’t be afraid to try them. You never know which you will like unless you give them a chance.
Salads are very popular to grow as they can be expensive to buy in the shop, and because leaf vegetables are quick our salad vegetable seeds can be sown almost all year around. To plant your seeds, work your soil so it is light and fluffy. Add compost for extra nutrients. Thinly sow the seeds so you have less waste when thinning later. Gently firm down the soil and water well using a spray bottle or fine spray of a watering can or garden hose. What you use for watering will be dictated by how big of a plot you have. The main thing to remember is to use the finest spray possible so you don’t wash away the seeds. There is no law saying you have to sow in rows, so if you want to sparsely scatter them that’s alright too.
Once you have sown and watered these salad vegetable seeds, there is little else to do until they sprout. Just remember to water the soil, or your efforts will be for nothing. Even if they haven’t emerged from the soil yet, they still do need to be kept evenly moist, but not soaked. Too little or too much water is often the downfall of a new garden.
When the seeds start poking through the soil, you will undoubtedly be more impatient than ever. Thin the plants to the recommended spacing on your seed packets. As much as you will want to taste the growing plants, it is best to wait until they are at least four inches (10 centimetres) high. Instead of pulling them out by the roots, you can extend your production by cutting the leaves above soil level. By cutting the leaves you will encourage the plants to keep producing.
As your plants grow, they will require more water. Lettuce and other greens are mostly comprised of water, so do not withhold it or you will have bitter tasting greens. Remember to keep the soil moist, but not saturated. It is a balance that is learned, as the temperature, lighting and rate of growth are all contributing factors to the amount of water a plant needs each day. It is best to check each plant individually, as location also plays a part in how much water is taken up by the plant. A small window box will dry out much quicker than a traditional garden plot.
If you wish to have salad greens for more than just a few weeks, sow seeds every two weeks until the hottest part of the growing season. If growing indoors, you can have fresh greens year-round. Just remember to provide proper lighting and adequate water.