Growing Salad at Home
With the weather finally picking up and Spring in the air it’s a great time to think about the healthy and simple way we can grow some vegetables at home even if you have very restricted space or even no garden at all!
Why not try growing some simple crops from seed in a window box or some pots on your patio. Growing crops from seed is really easy to do. If you don’t have an allotment or dedicated vegetable patch at home, all you need is a container, some potting compost, a watering can with a rose attached to keep them nice and moist and some seeds. If you have never grown something to eat yourself, I assure you when you pick and eat the fruits of your labor there is no better feeling, and you will notice a taste and freshness that you don’t get with shop bought veg.
A great thing to grow in a small container is salad crops, these can be sown in succession over the whole of the spring and summer months in very small quantities in your window box and can be cut when you need to use them.
If you choose your varieties well, you can cut the leaves of the crop and they will regrow very quickly, giving a tasty meal time and time again. This is called cut and come salad and include Lettuce, Rocket, Spinach, Mustard leaf and even Beetroot leaves are delicious grown in this way.
I always like to choose different coloured leaves when buying your seed to give a great show on the plate when you harvest.
When choosing your pots, remember at this time of year, when it’s still cold outside at night you need to protect the seeds either by placing in a heated glasshouse, conservatory or propagator or by placing on a warm, sunny windowsill in your house.
How to sow
- Part fill your container with potting compost leaving about 2cm of space from the lip of the container.
- Very lightly press or tap the container to firm the compost, this will form the seedbed in which you sow your seed upon.
- Tear open your seed packet and sow the seed very sparingly on to the seedbed in rows across the container, you can sow rows of different species within the same container. Ensure there is some space between the rows so when they germinate the plants have some space. If you are using a round plant pot, just sow one row across the widest diameter.
- When you have filled the container with the varieties of seed you wish to sow, cover the seed to the depth recommended on the seed packet. Do this as evenly as you can, if you have a fine sieve or riddle you can use it for this.
- Gently water with your watering can and a rose so as not to disturb the seedlings to much.
- Label the pot to show what is sown and put a date on the label, this will help as some seeds take differing times to germinate.
- Place the pot in heated glasshouse, conservatory or propagator or on a warm, sunny windowsill in your house.
Very quickly you will see the seedlings germinate, lettuce can take as little as three to four days but expect a week or more.
Keep the seedlings in a bright sunny place. After the threat of frost has passed in June this can be outside. As soon as you feel the leaves are big enough to harvest, cut them with sharp scissors and eat as soon as possible after cutting.
Once you have tried growing from seed, I know you will be hooked! Many amazing and wonderful varieties of edible vegetables are easily grown using this simple and low cost method, give it a try and you will be hugely rewarded for your efforts, even if you don’t have a garden…
Good luck and your fingers will be green before you know it!