How-To Project: Growing Salad Greens in Window Boxes
by National Gardening Association Editors
Don't let a lack of garden space keep you from growing and enjoying fresh veggies! With this plan, you can start harvesting fresh, flavorful, nutritious salad ingredients in about a month.
Tools and Materials
- Two planters at least 8 inches deep (such as window boxes), with drainage holes
- Seeds: radishes, mesclun mix, baby carrots, beets (shredded raw beet is a tasty and colorful salad topping)
- Soilless potting mix enriched with compost
1. Moisten your potting mix. If you wish to use a slow-release fertilizer, add it as recommended by the product label. Fill window boxes, and firm soil gently in place.
2. Following the directions on the seed packets, sow seeds of radishes and greens in one box, beets and carrots in the other. Radishes are ready to harvest about 28 days after germination; baby greens (lettuce, spinach, mesclun), in 30 days; beets, in 55 days; baby carrots, in 70 days.
3. Water gently so that you don't wash seeds out of the soil. Keep soil evenly moist, and watch for seeds to germinate.
4. Seedlings will come up thickly; thin them the first time to stand 1 inch apart. You can either pluck them out individually or use scissors to snip seedlings at the soil surface. (Eat the thinnings of greens and beet tops -- your first unofficial harvest!) Thin the carrots and beets again when they've doubled in size; ultimately they should stand 2 to 3 inches apart.
5. Fertilize every two weeks, unless you used a slow-release fertilizer at planting time. Use a water-soluble formula, such as fish emulsion.
6. Sow some more. As your harvest of greens and radishes makes room in that container, prepare to grow another round. Work an inch of compost into the empty spots and sow more seed.
If you have enough space, add containers for other salad favorites, such as tomatoes and cucumbers. (They need larger pots.)
Watch out for pesky squirrels -- they like to dig in freshly disturbed soil. If they're a problem, cover your planters with wire mesh or fabric row covers.
For color and spicy flavor, sow a few nasturtium seeds in your containers. The flowers are beautiful, fragrant, and tasty in a salad!