I realize that not everyone is like me when it comes to gardening. While I’m out in the patio with my coffee first thing in the morning to pollinate my zucchinis, I realize that sort of zealousness is not shared by all. It should be, but that’s a matter for another blog post.
While you might not be a green thumb–maybe yours is yellow–you can still grow some of your food at home. One of the easiest things to grow are baby salad greens. These babies are packed with nutrients and will grow just about anywhere there’s at least four hours of sun. In summer, tender greens will even appreciate a little shade from the harsh afternoon heat. What’s more, you growing your own salad greens ensures they’ll be free of potentially harmful pesticides and provides maximum nutrition–you’ll not find a fresher salad green than the ones you pluck from your pot and plop on your plate. They’re also easy to grow and fast to mature…you’ll have the best salad of your life in just a month.
Salad greens provide bulk without the calories. It’s got fiber and only 9 calories per cup. Throw in the multi-coloring and you have some antioxidant action going on. “If you frequently eat green salads, you’ll likely have higher blood levels of a host of powerful antioxidants (vitamin C and E, folic acid, lycopene, and alpha- and beta-carotene,) especially if your salad includes some raw vegetables. Antioxidants are substances that help protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals,” says Elaine Magee, MPH, RD. Greens also help keep your skin clear and luminous.
Growing mixed greens is so easy caveman could do it. In fact, he probably did. They grow as easy in the ground as in a pot, and if you’ve got a sunny winder or an AeroGarden–a hydroponic vegetable cultivating system that uses no soil at all–you can grow them inside. Regardless of which you choose, it’s really important to me that I buy organic, non-GMO (genetically modified) seeds, and a few I use and recommend are Seeds of Change and Botanical Interest.
Salad green seeds are tiny with shallow roots so you don’t need a deep pot to plant them and they only go down 1/8 of an inch. You might, however, get the widest pot you can so you’ll have plenty to harvest. The greens are what gardeners call, “cut and come” again. Snipping them actually encourages them to grow more. Just snip what you need and leave the rest for next time. Since not living on two acres (not even close) I utilize every bit of space I have in my pots and raised beds. For under $40 I bought a Smart Pot Big Bad Bed, which is basically fabric shaped in a circle. Just fill in the bag with potting soil and ta-da…you have a raised bed and you didn’t even need wood, hammers or nails. I’m growing greens along the rim of my planter of zucchinis. eggplant, and cucumbers.
Baby salad greens are good alone with a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but don’t be shy about building your salad with all the fruits and veggies you like. Add some chicken and you’ve go a complete meal.