Speedy Salads for Small Garden Spaces

A salad garden can be created in a very small space with minimal effort.

Simple salad ingredients fulfill a number of criteria for home gardeners.  Although I don’t love gardening and I have plenty of gardening space, I thought you would like to know there are lots of options if you are growing greens and salad veggies in small spaces: they’re compact in size, quick to grow, often repeat-cropping, and in many cases are suitable for the shadier parts of your garden. So if you’re short on space, make sure you prioritize salad growing in your garden plan.

Salad Leaves for Small Spaces

Growing your own radishes for salads

Radishes usually mature in about six weeks.

Tender leaf lettuce is widely enjoyed during the growing season for a small investment of time and money.  It is the ideal veggie to grow in a small space, as lots of plants can be packed in close together if they are grown for baby leaves. Leaf lettuce responds well to repeat picking; take a few leaves at a time or cut whole heads and the stump should regrow up to three more times.

The choice of lettuce varieties is astounding. It’s fun to have a pick-and-mix of different types growing in the garden to choose from – try combining red and green varieties, or oak-leaved with frilly leaved varieties for an eye-catching salad bed or container. Sow a few rows every couple of weeks to ensure a steady supply over the summer.

Lettuce is great, but peppery rocket (arugula) is even better, and it’s also good for the cut-and-come-again treatment. Rocket tends to bolt (run to seed) when the weather heats up, so grow it in spring and early summer, or try one of the many varieties of salad rocket in place of wild rocket as they are a little less quick to go to seed.

Shade-Loving Crops for Small Gardens

Growing Beets/beetroot for saladsBeet roots harvested young can add some great flavor to a super saladWhat makes leafy greens such as lettuce and rocket really valuable is that they are best grown in partial shade to stop the leaves from getting too tough. This also delays bolting. In a small garden where space is at a premium, being able to use the shady areas is a real benefit, so that full sun spots can be reserved for plants that really need the extra light to thrive.

Green onions or scallions are quick to grow and will also tolerate partial shade. It took me ages to realize that.  For best germination results, wait until the soil warms before sowing, or pre-warm the soil by covering it with a cold frame or a sheet of plastic.

Rapid Roots

Root vegetables can be harvested when small and immature for delicious ‘baby’ vegetables that are gorgeous grated into salad. Beetroot and  greens are an added bonus, giving you two salad crops from one plant.

Radishes are one of the quickest and easiest vegetables to grow, and they pack a serious punch of flavor. Harvest them usually within six weeks of planting and before they are too spicy, big or woody so the roots have a satisfying crunch.

Other Worthwhile Salad Crops

Cucumbers normally produce fruit within about 90 days.

Lastly, cucumber is my choice for small-space salads – it’s certainly speedy, going from seed to first fruits in approximately three months.   While cucumber plants are known for spreading they can be grown up a trellis to save space. One or two plants should produce more than enough cukes for the average family.

Cherry tomatoes fall into the same category – you won’t regret squeezing one or two plants in if you possibly can.  Certain varieties of container grown tomatoes can mature in approximately 70 days.

What speedy salad ingredients do you grow in your small garden? Share your experiences with us on Facebook.

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