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Starting a Salad Garden

By P. Allen Smith December 28, 2009

[Editor's note: Yes, we're still (or already) talking about gardening. Just think of this has early prep to inform your gardening this spring.]

Being able to grow anything has always given me such satisfaction, particularly when it’s something I can eat. The early spring offers so many opportunities to grow vegetables without a lot of space. This is the time of year I start what I call my salad garden.

Early spring’s cool temperatures are ideal for growing some of my favorites. Green onions, radishes, English peas and broccoli will spice up any meal. And since I’m such a salad person, I grow plenty of arugula and a wide range of leafy salad greens, such as my favorite: Buttercrunch lettuce.

I like to start my first crop with young plants and then sow seed for those that follow. In no time my vegetable bed will be full of delicious, tender, fresh lettuce. There’s just something about homegrown that is hard to beat.

The seed of many cool weather crops will germinate as soon as the soil begins to warm a bit. I coax the seedlings along with little plastic covers that I’ve made for my raised beds and they have the added benefit of protecting them if the temperature drops suddenly.

Many salad greens grow so quickly I can harvest several crops before it is time to plant the warm season vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and squash.

If you don’t have room for raised beds, you might try growing some salad greens in containers. It’s a great way to make the transition into spring even more enjoyable and you may find that what you grow is too beautiful to eat.