Plant A Spring Salad Garden

April 27, 2014 | By | Comments (5)
Salad garden

Svalbard, my garden gnome, waters every ‘Bright Lights’ chard by hand. Photo: Steve Bender

Why, hello there, ladies. I know you love salads. You could eat a delicious salad two or three times day! So why aren’t you growing your own salad garden this spring? It’s easy, it’s quick, and the time is right. Let Grumpy show you the way.

Because my back yard is shady, I do all of my veggie gardening in the front yard, where less sophisticated can easily see and be outraged by its placement. “Vegetables? In the front yard? What’s next, Grumpy? Are you going to tie a cow out there?” Of course not, that’s silly. A cow would eat all of my veggies.

And anyway, my little 20′ x 6′ veggie plot looks nice, because I mix in annual and perennial flowers and also choose leaf veggies with colorful leaves. What is Grumpy growing this year?

1. ‘Bright Lights’ chard
2. Romaine lettuce
3. ‘Buttercrunch’ lettuce
4. ‘Red Sails’ lettuce
5.  Arugula
6. Spinach
7. ‘Lacinato’ (dinosaur) kale

All of these leafy veggies are easy, easy, easy to grow from seed and, unlike fruiting veggies, will even grow and produce in part-shade. But as it’s already late April, it’s too late to sow seeds in most of the South, because when the weather gets warm, these plants quickly bolt (flower) and grow bitter. Arugula and spinach are the first to bolt. So start with transplants from the garden center. I planted salad greens grown by Alabama’s own Bonnie Plants.

Salad garden

Photo: Steve Bender

Why Grumpy Likes Greens
Greens are the easiest veggies to grow, because they grow quickly, produce a lot, and don’t take up much space. If you don’t have a yard, you can plant them in containers. They mix well in the garden with edible cool-weather flowers like pansies, violas, chives, and pot marigold (Calendula). And not all greens are green — you can plant red lettuce, burgundy mustard, yellow- and orange-stemmed chard, and blue kale.

Salad garden

Photo: Steve Bender

Salad greens like moist, fertile, well-drained soil that contains organic matter, such as composted cow manure, kitchen compost, or chopped leaves. After you pop out the transplants from the pack, soak and gently loosen the roots before planting. After planting, I always give my plants a drink of liquid fertilizer like Miracle-Gro, but I’ve also had luck with Nature’s Source 10-4-3 and Bonnie Plant Food 8-4-4 (both derived from oilseed extract). Give them another drink about every two weeks. Spinach is typically harvested by pulling up the entire plant at once. With the others, just cut and harvest the outside leaves and let the smaller, inside ones grow.

Now the big question. Balsamic, Italian, ranch, bleu cheese, or Thousand Island?


  1. Nancy Harrowitz

    We have our vegetable garden in the front yard, too—and heres an added benefit besides the full sun out there: the woodchucks that roam through everyone else’s back yard gardens eating everything in sight are too shy to go near ours, because its close to the street! Hah!

    May 4, 2014 at 7:36 am
  2. Steve Bender

    You just did!

    I’m just a maverick maverickin’ around as I look at Russia from my porch.

    May 1, 2014 at 1:15 pm
  3. Saxon Holt

    Egad – I thought front yard vegetable gardening was only a West Coast fad. Alabama ? 🙂

    April 30, 2014 at 8:03 pm
  4. NC Gardner

    Homemade honey-mustard, of course! Use 6 parts honey, 3 parts dijon mustard and 2 parts rice vinegar. Shake it, and store in fridge. Between the honey and vinegar, it doesn’t go bad.

    Thanks for the growing tips. I’ll try some cool weather greens in the fall when my raised bed has space…

    April 29, 2014 at 11:08 am
  5. Connie Kohler

    How do I ask the grumpy gardener a question?

    April 27, 2014 at 8:44 pm

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