Don't you just cringe when you order a salad at a restaurant (craving those crunchy-fresh greens) and it arrives, utterly tasteless with pockets of rotting-leaf flesh? Spent salad greens are just dreadful, and unfortunately all too common in batches of delicate lettuces that get shipped all around the world. This is your cue to turn around and head back home to your personal source of salad fixins', prepared windowsill-to-table.
Did you know that lettuces are actually some of the easiest plants to grow, and they actually prefer cooler spring and fall temperatures? By growing your own, not only will you save money (delicate greens can be pricey!) but you’ll also have a much tastier desk-lunch.
1. Grab your soil and container. Use any (organic/natural) potting soil mixture or a 1:1 ratio of topsoil to compost. Greens only need a minimum of 6” depth of soil, so most any container will do! Not much space at your apartment or condo? You can grow greens right in a tray/box on your windowsill, balcony or rooftop. What if your personal salad bar was closer to your kitchen than the grocery store? Go ahead and add “locavore” to your Instagram bio.
2. Decide what kind of greens you want to grow, whether "micro-greens" or “head lettuce”. When growing micro greens, this means seeds can be planted closer together, so that they are cut from a blanket of leaves. For head lettuce, varieties are usually spaced 6-12” apart so that a full heads of lettuce can form. For a beginning gardener, cut-greens (micro-greens) are a great way to grow your own salad, and get multiple harvests out of your garden!
3. Plant your salad greens seeds outside when your climate zone is safe from frost. Lettuce seeds only need a temperature of 40F to germinate! Make sure the seeds are spaced per instructions on the seed packet, or just plant your Seedsheet…we’ve done the math for you.
4. Water daily, keeping the soil moist so the seeds can sprout. Continue to water your salad seedlings every morning!
5. Harvest. When the leaves are 6-8” tall, take a pair of clean scissors and cut the leaves at the bottom of the stem. Leave the stub of the plant, if you want the greens to grow back (and they will!).
6. Fertilize. You are about to eat many salads made of plant-converted-soil-nutrients (plant-nerd imagination talking here...), so you may need to feed the soil for continuous healthy harvests! Use an organic fertilizer in small amounts, as directed on packaging.
Relish in your new locavore-street cred.