Salads should be part of a healthy lifestyle and frugal budget. Above all, salads are delicious! It doesn’t take a lot of garden space to grow a thriving and energizing garden salad. The good news is that salad veggies are probably the easiest to grow.
Lettuce is a super fun and easy leafy veggie to grow. There are so many delicious varieties, such as buttercrunch lettuce (head lettuce) or loseleaf lettuce. While it’s true most lettuces don’t like super-hot summer heat, there are many varieties that are either slow to bolt or don’t bolt. You just need to read the seed packets to find out the best temperatures for growing lettuce varieties.
Never Too Hot to Grow
That said, I have grown organic lettuce that isn’t slow to bolt in 90° to 100° weather. The key is shade and water. To accomplish this, we (we as in my husband) built a 3’ x 11’ raised bed partially underneath a shade tree. The bed receives the morning light, but as the summer day heats up, the sun tracks over the tree and by the time it ventures to the west, the tree is doing its job in shading the bed.
Shade Tree Protection
Most veggies require a minimum of 5-6 hours of sunlight. The lettuce bed receives around 6+ hours of sunlight. This is enough for the lettuce, spinach and swiss chard to grow prolifically in that bed. With succession plantings, we enjoy lettuce year-round. That’s because I allow the fall leaves from the shade tree to fill the planter and these insulate the lettuce from cold winter days, even snow.
Cucumbers Are a Must
If you don’t have a shade tree, then consider vertical planting cucumbers in the lettuce bed. You can use square foot growing practices by planting cucumbers in ever other square. The vining cucumbers will grow up a tripod of bamboo poles and serve to shade the cucumbers at different parts of the day. Cucumbers and lettuce are companion plants, meaning they support each other by neither robbing the other of soil nutrients or attracting harmful pests.
Tomatoes Easy to Grow
Choose 3-4 tomato varieties to grow in your salad garden. You can plant these in your lettuce bed along with basil. Basil gives tomatoes an added great taste as well as serving as a repellent to horn worms a true enemy of tomatoes as these munchers will completely strip the tomato leaves and chew holes in your tomatoes. Have fun with salad tomatoes with color, such as yellow, orange, green purple, striped, pink and of course red.
Some of my favorite salad tomato varieties are cherry and grape sized and all are prolific producers. These include:
- Chocolate pear-shaped: These are a brown/red variety with a spectacular sweet taste.
- Principe Borghese: Italian heirloom grape sized red tomatoes are little bombs of great tomato taste!
- Blue Berries Tomato: This variety is a cherry tomato that is a variegated deep red and deep purple variations.
- Riesentraube: These are red small tomato with amazing taste.
Other Salad Veggies
With succession growing (one crop after another), you can plant radishes, carrots and onions. Pepper plants are prolific producers once they get started. Peppers tend to start out slow and take longer to produce, but once they do, they will continue to the first frost.
Save BIG Growing Your Own Salad
A single raised bed is enough to give your family loads of delicious salad fixins’ from spring to fall and even beyond. There’s nothing more rewarding than going out to your garden and picking organic veggies for a family salad.