Grow a Salad in a Single Container
A Summer of Salads!
The Summer season is all about fresh produce, whether grown by local farmers, or right from your own home! You don’t need a large, sprawling garden to enjoy a crisp salad fresh-picked from your own plants. With careful choices and proper care, you can grow a healthy, delicious salad in just one pot!
As long as you have a sunny location you can have your own mini-farm on your porch, patio, deck, balcony, roof-top or doorstep!
Containers Can Do it All
Growing vegetables in containers provides benefits well beyond the topic of space. There are plenty of other reasons to plant your veggies in pots, such as…
- Vegetables add decorative value to your landscape just as flowers, trees, and shrubs.
- You avoid more problems with pests such as groundhogs, deer and rabbits and soil borne diseases.
- Pot soil warms up more quickly in the Springtime allowing for earlier planting and an extended growing season.
- Containers are easier on your body, as they require you to do less bending, squatting, and kneeling.
Best Pots for Growing Salads
Ideally, larger pots with ample room for a variety plants are best for growing container salads. Deeper pots will allow for better root development and easier drainage to be sure plants don’t become waterlogged. A taller pot can also be easier to cultivate, without the need to crouch down to tend the plants or harvest tasty bites. Taller pots will also permit more use of trailing, overhanging plants that will maximize your growing space.
So long as it is a good size to accommodate your salad choices, any type of pot or container can be suitable for growing a salad. Clay or ceramic pots are beautiful options, but you may prefer plastic pots because they are lighter and easier to move around. For more rustic choices, consider using half-barrels, a wheelbarrow or a galvanized tub. If you don’t eat a lot of salad but still want to grow your own, you can even use a window box. Round or oblong, rectangular or square, any shape of pot can be suitable for salad growing as long as it meets the plants’ needs for space and drainage.
You may need to drill, punch or poke holes in the bottoms of solid containers to be sure they have suitable drainage. For larger, heavier pots, you should also consider pot feet, casters or rolling stands so you can more easily rotate the pots for even sun exposure and to relocate the pot throughout the season for the very best growing conditions.
Plants for a Container Salad
Any plants you enjoy in salads can be grown in pots for an attractive and practical arrangement. Growing a container salad is also a fun opportunity to try new plants for unique flavors, which can make you even happier to be adding more healthy greens to your meal plan.
Tasty greens are the basis for any salad, and you can grow many different types of lettuce in a pot. For more variety, consider including spinach, Swiss chard, kale or endive to liven up your salad’s leafiness.
Add more tastes and textures to your salad with a variety of vegetables. Tomatoes, radishes, onions, carrots, cucumbers and banana peppers are just a few salad-friendly options that do well in pots. Choosing plants from local growers is always a plus!
For a salad with a sweeter side, nothing beats fresh berries. If you’re using a larger pot you will have plenty of room for strawberries, raspberries or blackberries to add a sweet and tasty tang to your salads. Raspberry and Blackberry plants can get rather large so choose dwarf varieties.
There are many edible flowers that can add a colorful burst to your pot and a unique taste to your salad. Consider Calendula, Nasturtium, Hibiscus, pansies and violets as well as lavender to add colorful flavors to your salad.
While you can’t grow the oil or vinegar for your salad in a single pot, you can use fresh herbs to give your salad a finished flavor that is even healthier and more fragrant. Chives, basil, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley and other herbs do very well in container salads.
When choosing which seedlings to add to your salad pot, opt for plants with similar growing requirements so they can all get the proper care. If necessary, you might have several pots growing different salad components so you can have even more variety and a bigger harvest.
Caring for a Container Salad
It’s no more difficult to care for a container salad than any containers you may grow. To ensure your plants are as lush and lucrative as possible, use a rich potting soil with plentiful nutrition and adequate drainage. For very large pots, you may want to add a small layer of gravel to the base to improve drainage and help with balance. Position the pot in a sunny location, protected from the harshest weather conditions.
When planting your salad seedlings, don’t be afraid to crowd them a bit. You will be harvesting them throughout the season, which will improve air circulation and provide more room for fresh growth. Provide regular fertilization, opting for a formula with more nitrogen. This encourages stronger foliage growth for even more harvestable greens!
Supports should be placed at time of planting for large or vining plants. This will ensure the young plants are not disturbed or damaged with supports added at a later time. If the supports are outside the container, however, they can be added only when they are needed.
Water the container regularly, and consider using a drip system to help keep the soil properly and evenly hydrated. When the plants are very young and delicate, you may want to cover them with a layer of wire mesh to keep pests away. You’ll need the proper hand tools to carefully weed your salad pot until the plants are large enough that weeds are no longer a concern.
To keep your salad growing richly on all sides, rotate the pot regularly so sunlight reaches all plants evenly. Be sure to move the pot as needed throughout the growing season as light exposure and shadows change. In doing so, you’ll lengthen the growing season and be able to harvest even more salads.
Harvest and Enjoy!
Thinning your plants with every salad you create will keep your pot growing deliciously. You can harvest baby greens and younger plants, and you’ll discover delightfully different tastes with plants at different levels of maturity. Try different combinations of plants for every salad, and you might be surprised at how eager you are to try new flavors with every harvest and meal!
Look for fresh herbs and veggie pots on sale seasonally in our flyer!