Grow Your Own Salad Bar

Grow Your Own Salad Bar

One of the self-satisfying things about growing your own vegetables is the knowledge that you are providing healthy food for you and your family. Many claims have been made for various classes of vegetables, from helping to lower cholesterol to reducing the risks of certain types of cancer. We make no particular health claims for vegetables, but they have been recognized as being good sources of vitamins and minerals, and have long been thought of as “health” foods.

Salad Feasts

While flowers and ornamental plants may be a feast for the eyes, a salad you’ve grown in your own garden is truly a feast for the body.

One of the beauties of your own salad garden is its versatility. You can make an “enthusiastic salad” – where you put everything you have into it – or keep things as simple as lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. And if you have family members that may not be the avid fans of the leafy greens and their companions that you are, getting them involved in the salad garden project will often whet their appetites.


Salads today go far beyond the simple fare they once were. Practically anything and everything can go in a salad. This means that you can grow what you like to eat and ignore those that you don’t. It also means that you can be adventurous in trying new things on a small scale.

Basic Components

At the base of most salads is a leafy green vegetable of some kind: lettuce and spinach are two of the most popular. Kids who “don’t like spinach” often like it as a fresh green – they think it’s just another kind of lettuce. Some choices for leafy greens to form the base of your salad are spinach and lettuces such as Iceberg, leaf, Romaine, and Boston. To add color to your salad, use ingredients such as carrots, red and green bell peppers or other peppers that can range from purple to green, red or yellow tomatoes, radishes, rings of sliced onions, and a little basil, thyme, dill or parsley. A salad should include a variety of colors, shapes and textures to appeal to the eye as well as to the taste buds.

Exotic ingredients

The produce in grocery stores has expanded to an international market. There are easy-to-grow salad vegetables from Europe and the Orient to add to your garden. The annual endive is native to the Orient, but was eaten by ancient Greeks. It is grown like lettuce, a cool season crop. Escarole and chicory are both essential salad greens in Europe and require little garden care. Radicchio, of Italian origin, is more difficult to grow, but the deep burgundy color is distinctive.

Under the generic heading “assorted greens” are some fast growing leafy crops. In the Mustard family, cress is probably one of the quickest salad crops, needed only 10 to 20 days until harvest. The most vigorous cress is best grown restricted to a container. The peppery flavor of cress is a “wake up call” for salads. Mustard greens are another class, and like cress, cannot be described as bland. These greens are ready to eat in about 5 weeks.

Garden Culture

Depending on how much salad you want, you can make the salad section of your garden as large or as small as you want. If your wants are minimal, you can even grow a salad in a large tub or other container, planting items in rows or circles. If you want to have fresh salad fixings as long as possible, plan successive sowings of radishes, carrots and lettuces about 10 to 14 days apart so that you will have different rows maturing at different times.

Read more at the National Garden Bureau. 

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