Grow Your Own Salad Bowl – Part 3
|July 1, 2016||Posted by Tracy Knutsen under Gardening, Going Green, Healthy, Vegetarian-Vegan||
If you missed Parts 1 and 2 of the series, you can find them here:
Not Just Lettuce: Other Salad Fixings You Can Grow for Your Salad Bowl
Growing your lettuce in salad bowls or similar planting containers is a lot of fun and a great way to get more healthy greens into your diet. While most of us are perfectly happy with a side of salad greens with dinner most nights, it’s nice to have a little variety in our salads. Of course adding other home-grown plants to your salad bowl adds to the overall nutritional value as well.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at various other “salad fixings” that you can grow indoors or on your patio. They make great additions to your salads, but also come in handy in the kitchen in a multitude of other recipes.
You can spent a small fortune on fresh herbs at the grocery store. Why not grow your own instead. You can keep them in small pots or even old tea or coffee pots. Actual little planters are preferable since they have drainage holes, but use what you’ve got and just think of how pretty these little pots of herbs will look all lined up in your kitchen window.
Popular herbs to grow and use in your salads include:
… and more. Like lettuce you can either grow them from seed, or pick up small plant seedling at your local garden center.
Sprouts also make a great addition to your salad. They provide a little crunch and a lot of extra nutrients. But like herbs, they can be pricey if you pick them up at the store each week. Instead, order some seeds online, then sprout your own in a shallow container lined with moist paper towel. Sprouting is surprisingly quick and easy. The biggest secret is that you have to keep the seeds moist and warm.
Common things to sprout include alfalfa, lentil, mung, rye, soy, and wheat. Start with the sprouts you like to eat, then expand your growing horizon from there.
Tomatoes And Peppers
Tomatoes and peppers may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking about growing plants indoors, but there are small varieties that do surprisingly well in a sunny window. Of course growing them outside on a patio or balcony in larger containers is also an option.
In either case look for varieties that don’t grow very large and provide a nice little harvest. You should be able to find varieties of tomatoes (mostly cherry tomatoes) and various peppers from hot to sweet that you can grow in a small space and add to your salad.
Not only do they add a nice burst of flavor and visual appeal to your salad, they also make surprisingly beautiful houseplants. And isn’t it more satisfying to grow a plant that also provides you with food?
Onion and Garlic
If you’re feeling a little adventurous, try growing your own onion and garlic alongside your lettuce bowl. While regular onions don’t lend themselves to indoor growing you can plant green onion and garlic bulbs and grow both of those in fairly small containers on your counter. Use the green onion, and you can even use the green stalks of the garlic plants in a similar way. It has a mellow bit of garlic flavor that’s not quite as strong as the garlic bulbs that will be growing all along in the soil.
Ready to give it a try? Head to your local garden center and give it a try.
The Health Benefits Of Microgreens
One of the big benefits when it comes to growing your own greens is that you can pick and eat them right away. This preserves the most nutrients, no matter when you harvest your greens but is particularly beneficial when it comes to microgreens. You’ve probably heard about these power houses of the vegetable family and may even grab them on occasion at your local health food store or grocer.
When you get into growing your own greens in salad bowls, harvesting microgreens is another option. They make a great addition to all your salads. But what exactly are microgreens?
What Are Microgreens
Green leafy plants are considered microgreens in the stage between sprout and seedling. They are usually harvested after they’ve had their first few regular leaves. If you’ve watched a plant grow from seed you notice that a sprout appears first, then the plant develops its first two leaves. Those first leaves look different from the regular leaves of the plan. After that the next three to five leaves pop out that look like those of the grown plant. It is during this stage when the first few leaves appear that microgreens are harvested.
You can use a variety of different plants to grow micro greens including lettuce, kale, arugula, chard, watercress, beet and radish greens, parsley, chives, basil, and cilantro.
How You Can Benefit From Microgreens
Microgreens are nutritional powerhouses that are full of vitamins. The exact nutrition will depend on the types of greens you consume. To get the most out of your microgreens, mix and match the plants you use. Nutrients include beta-carotene, iron, calcium, and lutein.
Since microgreens are grown in soil as opposed to sprouts which are usually grown in water, they are able to absorb a lot more minerals and nutrients from the soil they are grown in. A good, rich potting soil will result in the healthiest greens.
How To Grow Microgreens
Growing your very own microgreens is surprisingly simple. Since the plants are small, they don’t require a lot of light, making it the perfect superfood to grow on your kitchen counter. You’re also harvesting the plants when they are still small and don’t have long roots, so it doesn’t take a lot of soil to grow them either.
Get a shallow container and fill it with quality organic potting soil. Sprinkle in the seeds for your favorite greens and herbs and lightly cover them with soil. Carefully mist or lightly water them, so the seeds don’t get washed away.
Keep them well watered and in a fairly warm place, and after a few days you will start to see little sprouts appear. Keep growing them until they are large enough to harvest. Reseed and repeat.
Salad Bowls Make Great Gifts
If you’re looking for a cute and personal gift idea, look no further than the beautiful salad bowls that have been gracing your own kitchen counter for the past weeks and months. They are perfect for the person that has everything. Let’s run through four reasons why salad bowls make great gifts and then we’ll wrap it up with a few tips on putting the perfect gift bowl together.
They Are Inexpensive
Salad bowls make an impressive, yet inexpensive gift. This is particularly true if you already have a bowl and potting soil to work with. Even if you end up going out to buy a planting bowl, you’ll still spend less than on most other gifts.
Growing your lettuce plants and herbs from seed is another great way to save and make this a frugal yet impressive gift. Best of all, when you’re done it will not look cheap or homemade. If possible put it together a week or two before you give it away to give all the plants a chance to recover from replanting and fill out a bit.
They Are Easy To Make
If you’re already growing your own salad greens in shallow bowls you know how easy it is to put this together. If you’re new to the idea, this may be a great time to not only put a salad bowl together as a gift, but a second one for yourself. If you can repot a plant, you can put one of these bowls together.
They Can Be Personalized
Salad bowls can become beautiful personalized gifts. You can choose a bowl that fits the recipient’s personality or decor and then fill it with favorite lettuce varieties and herbs. The more you know about the person you’re giving it to, the easier it will become to personalize. Either way it is sure to be a unique and impressive gift.
They Are A Gift That Keeps On Giving
One of the biggest benefits of giving a salad bowl as a gift, is that it’s a gift that keeps on giving. Each time the family you gifted this too harvests another plate of lettuce, they’ll fondly think of you and again appreciate the gift they’ve received. And you know you’re helping them eat healthier, homegrown food.
To create a beautiful salad bowl as a gift, start with a pretty bowl. Fill it with some quality potting soil that includes food safe slow release fertilizer. This makes it easy to care for the lettuce plants and ensures that the recipient gets a nice harvest.
If you have the time and are already growing your own seedlings to use in these salad bowls, go ahead and grow a few extra in a few different varieties. Having salad bowls with several different color greens and plants with varying heights add interest and visual appeal. Consider adding an herb or two for added interest and flavor. If you don’t have the time to grow from seed, head to your local garden center and see what you have to work with. If everything else fails, you can always take some of your own plants and regrow for yourself. The recipient of the salad bowl will appreciate all the time and effort you’re putting into the gift.