Why plant a salad garden?
Planting a salad garden is a great way to keep all your salad fixings in one convenient place. Plus, growing your own greens is much healthier than the prepackaged salad mixes at the grocery store. Remember, you are now in control of any chemicals used on your produce! Keeping it all (for the most part) in one bed also makes it easier to harvest your own nutritious salad mix for dinner. Salad veggies, unlike most other vegetables that love the sun, can also be grown together in areas with less sunlight! Just four to six hours a day is enough to grow lettuces, spinach, peas, beets, radishes and other leafy greens.
With the exception of tomatoes and peppers, everything for salads is grown in this bed. To increase yields and to better accommodate soil requirements, the tomato and pepper plants are grouped in other beds. I have found through experience that growing the carrots and other plants around the tomatoes tended to result in them being much smaller. This may be due to decreased sunlight reaching them and that the tomatoes may take away too much water from them.
The Delorean raised bed.
The Delorean bed, named after the car that had doors that lifted up, just like the sides on this bed, is my choice for the salad garden. It is completely caged in with chicken wire and hardware cloth. Robins and other critters with a fondness for tender green shoots can’t get to it. Ever come out to your garden only to discover that the little sprouts that came up yesterday are now gone? Yep, probably birds.
How much can you grow in a 4×8 bed?
I planned on starting this bed two weeks ago, but daily rain and below normal temperatures put a hold on that idea. We did get a couple nice afternoons this week so I got it done! After removing the drip irrigation system, I worked in about 1.5 cubic feet of peat moss, as I am currently out of compost. I left the square foot grids in place to make planting easier, and finished planting the entire bed. The veggie list for this bed is as follows, noting number of squares (sq ft) per variety, number of seeds per square and the seed variety planted.
- 7 squares of 16 Kaleidoscope Carrots
- 8 squares of 9 Red Magic Hybrid Swiss Chard
- 2 squares of 9 Loose Leaf Blend Lettuce
- 2 squares of 9 Little Caesar Lettuce
- 3 squares of 9 Spring Broccoli Raab
- 3 squares of 9 Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach
- 4 squares of 16 Chioggia Beets
- 3 squares of 9 Pak Choy
A continual harvest plus fall crops, too.
In case you wondered, that’s 365 plants in a 4×8 foot bed. The lettuces, beets, spinach, pak choy and swiss chard will have some of their leaves harvested as they grow, so no replanting required. The Broccoli Raab can be cut and it will continue to grow. Carrots will be harvested as baby carrots when wanted and allow some to grow for meals and the freezer. Most of these vegetables do not like extreme heat in summer and will bolt, or go to seed. So this bed will be cleaned out by mid August and will be replanted with a fall crop of brassicas. Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower are ready within two months and prefer growing in cool fall weather. That should help fill the freezer with healthy garden goodness to be enjoyed during the long, cold Central NY winter.
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