How to grow baby salad greens
While it’s true that the garden slows down in winter, it doesn’t have to stop! Canberra has amazingly sunny winters, meaning that you can still grow things to eat. Here at the Acton Community Garden we’ve been growing salad greens in containers in our glasshouse. At home you could grow them by a sunny windowsill, on a sheltered veranda or under a cloche (frost shelter) in garden beds.
1. Get some soil. You could use a commercially available potting mix, or combine some compost with sand to make your own. Whatever you use, make sure that it’s well draining.
2. Put it in a pot. You could recycle a plastic pot from a nursery or repurpose a Styrofoam box. Make sure that whatever you use has a drainage hole at the bottom and put a plate or tray underneath to catch the drips.
3. Decide what to plant. There are dozens of different types of lettuce alone! Spinach, rocket, and kale also make great baby salad greens. Why not plant a mixture?
4. Sow the seed. Sprinkle your seeds across the top of the soil, and then scatter another handful of soil on top to cover them. Small seeds like lettuce only need to be a couple of millimetres underground to germinate. Baby greens don’t need to be spaced very far apart, so the seed can be sown quite thickly.
5. Water every second day. Don’t let the soil dry out while the seedlings are little. Use a watering can or plant mister so that you don’t wash away the soil.
6. Watch them grow. Make sure that the seedlings are getting as much sun as possible in winter. (Keep the seedlings partially sheltered from the sun in summer.)
7. Cut and come again. When the leaves have grown to a good ‘baby’ size, grab a knife or a pair of scissors and cut off the leaves about 2cm from the soil. Enjoy your delicious crunchy home grown salad. Continue to water and care for the plants, and the leaves will soon grow back again. Congratulations, you have a perpetual salad garden!