Grow Your Own Salad Bowl – Part 4
|July 2, 2016||Posted by Tracy Knutsen under Gardening, Going Green, Healthy, Vegetarian-Vegan||
If you missed Parts 1, 2 or 3 of this series, you can find them here:
Containers & Supplies For Your First Salad Bowl
Ready to start planting your first salad bowl? You’ll be surprised how easy this will be to put together. There are only a handful of things you need to get started.
- A Container or Bowl
- Seeds or Seedlings
That’s it. Start by looking around the house for a container to plant your lettuce in. This can be a flow pot you no longer use, or even a plastic bowl that you can drill drainage holes in. Don’t use a bowl without holes, because you’ll risk having the soil stay too moist and the roots will end up rotting. Drainage is important.
If you can’t find anything suitable around the house, or you want a pretty container to sit on the kitchen counter, head to your local home improvement store or garden center and get a shallow bowl planter. A shallow bowl with drainage holes and a catch plate works best for this little planting project.
While you’re there, pick up a bag of good potting soil as well. You won’t need a large bag, but look for quality soil that’s suitable for growing vegetable. A potting soil mix with a slow release fertilizer added will give you the best results.
You also need to decide if you want to grow your lettuce from seed, or plant seedlings. Seedlings are often the best choice for your first salad bowl. They are easier to grow for a beginner and of course you get to harvest that much sooner. I like to use this seed sprouting kit to get them started.
Have a look through your local garden center, or even your farmers market and find a few different varieties of lettuce that you want to grow. Mixing colors makes for a pretty planter and don’t forget that you can add some herbs as well for variety.
Once you get all your shopping goodies home, the fun starts. Fill your bowl with potting soil. Play with your plant seedlings before you take them out of their containers to determine how you want to arrange them in the bowl. With that figured out, it’s time to dig holes and start planting. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. They are the perfect gardening tool. Of course using a small shovel or a large spoon is also an option.
Take the seedlings out of the containers, gently tease the roots apart a little around the edges and plant them. Gently water your planting bowl to allow the soil to settle and to help encourage root growth.
Don’t be alarmed if your seedlings start to droop a little after planting. They will quickly recover and it won’t take long before you can harvest your first salad.
Expanding From Your Salad Bowl
Once you have a few harvests from your salad bowl under your belt, you are ready to expand and look into other things you can grow in containers. We already talked about adding things like herbs to your window sill. Of course growing a few more salad bowls to get bigger harvest and a larger variety is always an option.
If the gardening bug has bitten you though, that quickly won’t be enough. You’re ready to head outside and dig in the dirt. You want to grow more than a few salad greens and herbs. Here’s where you want to start. As you work through the list below, you’ll progressively go deeper into gardening. Of course this is just an overview. Use the ideas as you see fit and feel free to mix and match to fit your own personal needs.
Patio Container Plants
The first thing you may want to try is growing some tomatoes, cucumbers, or strawberries in containers on the patio, porch, or even balcony. They don’t’ take up a lot of space and are a great option for people who want to go into gardening but don’t have the space.
It’s also a great option when you’re ready to up your food production, but you’re not quite ready to go full force into gardening. Patio containers don’t need a lot of time or effort to take care of. There isn’t a lot of weeding and you can water your vegetables as you water your other patio plants.
Plant Box Gardening
Once you get to the point that the small pots sitting on your patio aren’t quite cutting it anymore, consider making or buying a plant box that you can set in your yard and fill with soil. It’s much easier to setup and control than digging up your lawn and since it is a raised box, your vegetable garden is contained and looks pretty.
Fill it with good soil, peat moss and compost and your vegetables will thrive. You can grow anything from lettuce and herbs to tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, carrots, squashes and beans in your plant boxes. When you’re ready to expand, add another box.
Hay Bale Gardening
Hay bale gardening works similarly and it’s another way to garden that’s gained a lot of popularity in recent years. The basic idea is to get a bale of hay, sit it in your yard and then push small indentions in, add a little soil and plant your seedlings. As the hay bales decompose, they provide food for the plants, while the bale itself keeps things off the ground, making it easy to water and care for your plants. And since they are off the ground, you don’t have to worry much about weeding or soil borne plant diseases.
A Garden Pot In The Yard
The last step in your journey to become a full-fledged gardener is of course to start digging up part of the lawn in the backyard to create a garden plot. Having a larger garden outside has several big advantages. You can grow a larger variety of vegetables (and some fruit) and of course end up with a more plentiful harvest. Quite a few types of produce don’t grow well in pots like green beans for example. Quality and quantity are your biggest advantages of starting a garden.
The downside of a large garden is that it’s quite a bit of work to plant, weed, water and then harvest. And depending on how much you’re growing, you may also need to put up some of the produce before it goes bad. In the end, the hard work is well worth it though and it does count as exercise.