Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening
With just a windowsill and a cupboard you can get your year-round indoor salad gardening. Best of all is that to grow salad greens you don’t need a lot of fancy gardening tools and equipment. Yes you read right, there is no need for a greenhouse, no need for a pump and no need for an artificial light source and your salad items will grow just fine.
There are a wide variety of lettuces to choose from and a number of very unusual specialty blends and salad greens as well. These plants love cool weather and will best germinate at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the plants have started sprouting they will require the air temperature to be around 60 degrees Fahrenheit so they can grow healthy and so they can offer the best flavor. With the right amount of finesse you can easily grow your own salad garden up to 10 months out of the year and even more.
Varieties of Salad Greens
There are many types of lettuces. If you want to have a long season of salad items then you want to look at between 8 and 10 different kinds of seeds. At the start of the year you want to start planting those that will thrive in cool soil and low light. Varieties such as Winter Marvel, Arctic King, Black Seeded Simpson, Winter Density and Arugula Astro are great for growing in the spring.
As the weather gets warmer you want to start planting your varieties that are more tolerant to heat such as Torenia, Red Butterworth, Rosalita and Tyee or Emu spinach to name a few. You can find others that are ideal for warmer temperatures as well by doing some more googling or by asking at your local farmers market.
Starting the Seeds
If you want to be harvesting high quality vegetables every month you want to start with a steady supply of young plants to transplant. You will need to sow a couple seeds each week whether indoor or outdoor as you can. If it is too cold or too hot outside you should start them indoors.
You always want to ensure you use a potting mix that is specifically for seed starting. Start your seeds in small flats or boxes measuring 4 x 6 inches. If you choose a flat you can easily sow up to 25 seeds.
Once you see seedlings with leaves you can start the individual transplantation.
Maintaining Moisture in the Soil
Leafy greens will grow their best in loamy rich soil with a lot of organic matter. Prior to sowing your seedlings you want to dig some compost into the top of the soil with a hand fork or trowel.
Your seedlings will benefit the most when you water them right after transplanting with the use of a solution of water and fish or seaweed emulsion. Salad greens and lettuce need a flow of continuous water to ensure they produce succulent leaves so you will have to ensure the soil is always moist.
Creating a Microclimate
You can have year round indoor salad gardening even if you don’t have the climate conditions mentioned above naturally. You can do this by creating a microclimate; a small environment where the air temperature and the soil temperature is rightly suited to the growth of salad greens. This will be easier in some climates than others. You can use invest in an aerogarden.
You will need a support frame, some clothespins, garden quilt or garden fabric and enough space in a cool area of your home. In the later part of winter and in early spring you can sow some seeds and transplant them in your microclimate covered with garden quilt.
When the weather gets warmer you can remove the garden quilt and replace with the garden fabric. This will provide less protection than the quilt but will help the plants get more light. Whenever the temperature is ideal you can remove the garden fabric and allow the plants to enjoy the natural climate.
When day time temperatures rise you want to ensure that the air temperature is kept below 70 and you want to ensure that the soil is always moist and cool. When the heat of the summer is all gone you will be able to remove the garden fabric once again once the temperature permits so your greens can grow in the natural climate once again.
When it starts to get colder and the temperature starts dropping below the 50’s now is the time to get that garden quilt back up. You may need to add a second garden quilt layer depending on how cold it gets especially at nights. Ensure you use supports so that both fabrics are not weighting down directly on the plants.
You may find that your salad greens get dormant during the coldest part of winter. Sometimes they go dormant while other times they just grow extremely slowly especially if they are less than six weeks old.
The good news is that once the place warms up they will go back to their usual rate of growth. Spinach and arugula tend to overwinter even in the coldest climates once you have two layers of garden fabric. They then become read for March harvest season.
Harvesting Your Salad Vegetables
To harvest a head of lettuce you simply pull the entire plant from the soil it is planted in. If you don’t want to remove the entire vegetable complete with root you can use a knife or scissor to harvest the leaves and leave the roots in place.
Most salad greens will re-grow after you cut leave from them as long as you leave at least a half inch of the plant behind. You can even pick individual leaves if that is all that you want.
You can get a year round indoor salad gardening success story once you plant your greens more than once per year. You want to be planting continuously throughout the year and establish a microclimate so that you can do so.
This allows you the opportunity to ensure freshly grown, tasty and succulent salad greens right in your home. When you have the right conditions you can be reaping fresh salad greens every week for fresh, organic non-GMO food items for your entire family.