Creating a Container Salad Garden

Many salad crops are suitable for growing in outdoor planters and if you are new to home-grown produce they are an easy and fairly maintenance vegetable group to start with. Like any home-grown produce, salad crops have a unique taste all of their own (once you have tasted your own lettuce you will never go back to shrink-wrapped supermarket leaves). Growing salad in containers means you can start with as much or as little as you like, growing a few varieties amongst other container plants on a patio or dotted around the garden. Here is a short guide on how to create a container salad garden and some varieties best suited to pots.

All salad crops need a sunny spot sheltered from strong winds. When choosing a container, make sure you buy one large enough and deep enough to accommodate the plant you want to grow in it. Drainage is also important, so your container will need plenty of drainage holes (putting broken crocks or gravel in the bottom of the pot will also help). The final crucial thing to remember is watering. Any container grown plant will need more watering than those grown in the ground. Never let your salad crops dry out but equally, don’t allow them to become waterlogged.

Lets start with lettuce and salad leaves. The varieties available are endless but all will do very well in outdoor planters. Smaller varieties of lettuce such as Little Gem are ideal for containers. Salad leaves such as baby leaf salad mix, lambs lettuce and rocket will also do well in pots. Its a good idea to choose pick-and-come-again varieties that will keep on producing all summer. Radishes are great for container growing. Choose quick growing varieties such as French Breakfast and successional sow for a continuous crop. No salad is complete without the tomato. Tomatoes can easily be grown outdoors, they just need a sheltered spot (preferably against a wall or fence) and good support canes. Try Gardener’s Delight, an exceptionally sweet cherry tomato that is very reliable indoors or out.

Spring onions are really easy to grow in outdoor planters. They are quick growing so staggering your planting will give you a longer lasting supply. Try Guardsman for a reliable crop or Furio for a great tasting red spring onion. Beetroot may not be a salad crop you would associate with container growing, but it will happily grow well in pots. Choose a round variety such as Boltardy or baby beets such as Baby Action rather than long cylindrical varieties. Beetroot like moist soil, so keep your containers well watered.

Source: Jo Poultney

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