Salad Squares

Salad Squares

You don’t have to be a master gardener or have a lot of space to enjoy fresh, colorful and flavorful greens for salads and sandwiches. You can grow a blend of salad greens in the same square-foot patch. By planting “a square at a time” over the course of the summer, you’ll get a staggered and steady harvest rather than just a single bumper crop.

Start with the three essentials: one packet each of red loose-leaf lettuce seed, green loose-leaf lettuce seed, and spinach seed. (Curly leaf types add more texture.) To that, add a half packet each of three or four of your favorites (e.g., mustard, red chicory, endive, arugula, bull’s blood, lamb’s lettuce/corn salad, or romaine, to name a few). While you can buy packaged mesclun seed mixes, these don’t always provide a good blend. Mix the seeds in about a 1/4-cup of fine sand. Place the mixture in a container, such as a spice jar, ensuring that the holes in the lid are large enough for the largest seed to pass through.

For spring and fall planting, select a site that will receive full sun; for planting during the hottest part of the summer, choose a partially shaded area. Sprinkle the seed mixture over a 12” square area of soil. The sand lets you see where you have already sown. Cover the seeds thinly with about a quarter inch of soil, tamp lightly, then water deeply, but gently, with a watering can equipped with a rose that provides a fine spray.

Protect the early-spring and late-fall seedlings from frost with a garden cloche or plastic sheeting cut to size, and the summer seedlings from the sun with shade cloth cut to size.

Plant another square-foot patch every two to three weeks to ensure a steady harvest. For summer sowing, refrigerate the seeds overnight before planting.

When the leaves are about 4” or 5” tall, cut them a half inch or so above the ground with scissors. The leftover stubble will grow a second helping of salad greens.

To enjoy fresh salad greens in the fall and winter, plant some in a bowl indoors. Line the bottom of a 6” tall glass bowl with about 1-1/2” of small pebbles, then add about 4” of potting soil. Sow as for outdoor planting. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a sunny spot. Remove the plastic wrap once the seeds have germinated, and move away from direct sunlight, as needed. Feed regularly with a water-soluble fertilizer.

Share On Facebook Share via Email

NAME YOUR WISH LIST

Sign In

User Name is a required field.

Password is a required field.

Forgot password? Forgot Username?

Benefits of creating an account:

Create an account

Please enter the username associated with your Lee Valley account and we will send you an email to reset your password.

Please enter the email address associated with your Lee Valley account and we will send you an email with your username.