Do you find salads boring? If so, you’ve probably never grown your own salad greens! Here are some easy-to-grow options to try.
Salad greens are some of the easiest plants to grow – no matter what your garden situation. Whether you’re growing in a pot on the windowsill, or in a raised bed outside, a greenhouse, or a cold frame, salad greens grow quickly, and come in a huge variety of options, so your salads will never be boring.
If I had to live on plain old lettuce from the supermarket, I’d probably get tired of salads pretty quickly, but with my own garden producing an endless array of colors, flavors, and textures, I could eat salads literally every single day and never get bored!
Alongside the huge variety of lettuce types, there are numerous other greens that go great in salads, and also add additional nutrients and flavors to spice things up a bit.
Here are some delicious and easy-to-grow salad greens to consider for your own garden (once you’ve mastered these, you may want to try lesser-known greens such as Tatsoi, mizuna, claytonia, and Mache, many of which grow well even during the fall and winter):
Arugula (my favorite!)
A member of the cabbage family, and like most crucifers, it is rich in a family of phytonutrients called glucosinolates – compounds with strong anticancer properties. Arugula is higher in antioxidants than most green lettuces, including dark green leafy varieties. Arugula is also higher in calcium, magnesium, folate, and vitamin E than most other salad greens.
True to the name of the popular home grown variety of arugula, ‘rocket,’ it pops out of the ground in early spring. You will be harvesting leaves in just four to six weeks… To have a continuous supply of young, mild-peppery-tasting arugula, plant seeds every few weeks. Containers are ideal for Arugula. ‘Adagio’, a variety released in 2010, has proven to be a long standing, slow-to-flower and very slow-to-bolt variety which grows well in the heat – making it a good choice for the home gardener.
Endive is a member of the chicory family, which includes radicchio, escarole, frisée and curly endive. It has a crisp texture and a sweet, nutty flavor with a pleasantly mild bitterness and is great served raw or cooked. Endive is one of the most difficult vegetables in the world to grow, requiring a two-step growing process before it is ready to be enjoyed.
The first growth takes about 150 days in the field, where the chicory grows from seed into a leafy green plant with a deep tap root. At harvest, tops of the leafy chicory plant are cut off. The roots are dug up, and then placed in cold storage where they enter a dormancy period……………………………………….
An herb of the chicory family, radicchio is a bitter ‘green’ most often eaten in small quantities added to a salad. The bitterness, however, does comes with rewards. Compared to romaine, for example, radicchio has four times more antioxidants.
Radicchio comes in red and green varieties, the most familiar being the Italian Rosso di Chioggia. This variety forms a loose head of bright magenta leaves set off with white veins and ribs. It grows well in the heat. Rosso di Treviso is the same color as Rosso di Chioggia, but does not form a head and also tolerates heat fairly well…
Perhaps our most popular dark green vegetable is higher in antioxidants than most lettuce greens. Like other dark green plants, it is rich in the phytonutrient lutein, which helps protect the eyes and reduce inflammation. Lutein may have antiaging properties as well.
Spinach has come a popular salad green in recent years and a home garden favorite. Typically planted in the fall, the plants are harvested when they are young and tender…