Lettuce growing in a garden
Planting a Salad Garden

If you've never had a garden or only have a small amount of space for a garden, a salad garden might be just the garden for you! Believe it or not, with some careful planning (and planting) your salad garden can fit into a space about 2 feet x 6 feet.

A salad garden is just what it implies, a garden planted with vegetables to make a salad--gourmet or otherwise. The best location for a salad garden, providing the sun and soil conditions are right is near kitchen or the back door.

You can plant just about anything you want of course, but if this is your first gardening experience you might want to keep it simple. Start out with a couple of varieties of lettuce, radishes, carrots, a tomato plant or two, a cucumber plant and maybe some scallions. If you're an experienced gardener why not conisder some different salad greens like arugula or lamb's lettuce.

If you're really short on space consider planting your salad garden in a series of large flowerpots or perhaps just the tomato and cumber plants in containers. You can even plant your salad garden plants amongst the flowers! Vegetables generally grow best in full sun but will do well in as little as 5 to 6 hours of direct sunlight. Well-drained fertile soil enriched with organic matter and compost is required along with plenty of air circulation as many salad crops are somewhat delicate and disease prone under certain conditions. Fertilizer is not required. The rule of thumb is one inch of rainwater per week so if it's been a dry summer be prepared to water and really soak the ground.

Whether you plant in rows or scatter your seeds here and there, there are a couple of techniques that you can use to ensure a bountiful crop all summer. The first is to interplant, which means planting smaller crops under larger ones or shade tolerant vegetables under sun loving ones. An example of interplanting would be planting onions next to spinach or tomatoes next to lettuce.

The second method is called succession planting. This means that as soon as six radishes are pulled up to make your salad you plant the same or another crop in its place. Typically a second crop would be one whose growing season extends later into the growing season, for example peas.

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