Throw out the iceberg lettuce and bring on the Asian Greens and Rainbow Chard for a tasty change to your usual salad.
Salads don’t have to be boring. With the range of flavors, textures, shapes and colors of salad greens that you can grow at home, you can be enjoying your own delicious salad picked fresh from your garden, every day of the week.
Salad greens can be grown anywhere, in a pot, in the veggie patch or even in a community garden. All you need is a little bit of sun and a little bit of space and you can grow your own salad in just 6 short weeks.
Just like a good wine or herbal tea, a salad needs to be balanced in flavor to make it a complete taste sensation. Flavor suites include sweet, spicy, savory, anise and lemon.
A combination of leaves or flowers from each of these flavor suites makes a very enjoyable summer dish. Just a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice is all you need to add.
When growing salad greens, start with seedlings, that way the plants are already off to a good start and you’ll be picking leaves sooner. Plant them in pots filled with good quality organic potting mix suitable for herbs and vegetables.
The proper mix will provide the necessary nutrients and if growing them in the ground enrich the soil with compost and green manure beforehand to give the plants plenty of nitrogen.
Salad greens are hungry and thirsty, so grow them in an area that gets morning sun or even dappled light throughout the day. Hot afternoon sun can make the plants wilt and lose vigor. A good supply of moisture is more important than the amount of sun for these plants to thrive.
Toni’s Top Ten Easy Salad Greens
- Loose leaf lettuce: oak leaf, ruffled, red tipped
Sweet tasting lettuce leaves in a variety of shapes – Grow green or red varieties for color contrast.
Asian greens with deeply serrated edges, a beautiful lime green color and a mildly spicy taste.
There is little difference in taste between Mibuna and Mizuna. The main difference is in the color and shape. Mibuna has lovely dark green leaves, with a long tapered shape that botanists call oblanceolate.
An Asian green a bit milder than others, Tatsoi has dainty dark green round leaves. The darker green the leaves are, the higher the antioxidants.
Radicchio is a type of chicory that should be added sparingly, as it is one of the bitter greens and may be an acquired taste. The crisp texture and strong red color is a nice contrast among other leaves.
- Rainbow Chard
Chard is an old fashioned favorite for many savory dishes, but a new rainbow mix has plants with different color stems. This variety comes with red, yellow, pale green or white stems. Pick these leaves while they are still young and small for a more delicate flavor.
Chervil is a delicate herb with small feathery light green leaves with an anise flavor that makes a great addition to the salad mix.
Add some spice to your salad with arugula leaves. Choose from thin leaves of a wild variety that self seeds readily throughout the garden or the larger leaves of the regular variety.
The round shield shaped leaves of nasturtium are often nostalgic of old fashioned gardens, but the leaves and flowers are both delightfully spicy.
The leaves from the perennial plant known as French sorrel provide tangy lemony accents to your salad mix.
Toni Salter, ‘The Veggie Lady’, is an Australian registered horticulturist living in Sydney. Follow Toni on Twitter and ‘Like’ her on Facebook