So my veggie garden is still under four feet of snow — does that stop a keen gardener from planning for a new planting season? Heck, no!
One of the first plantings that will go in (when Spring eventually arrives in Atlantic Canada) will be the salad garden of mixed mesclun greens and spinach and lettuce, not to mention some tasty lovely snow peas. These are all vegetable crops that prefer cooler air and soil temperatures, and will quickly fade when summer sun grows warm.
Stretch the Summer Salad Days
Did you know that you can grow salad greens in containers, if you don’t have a patch of earth for a garden? They look quite lush and lovely growing in pots, too.
Keep the harvest going by snipping off just the outside leaves, rather than the entire head of your lettuce plants. The plants will keep producing from the centre, and you get super-fresh salad for days and days on end!
Lettuce and spinach and other greens are easy to grow from seed. So easy, in fact, that I never seem to learn to scatter the seeds thinly enough — I’m always making allowances for seeds that might not germinate, and I end up with a crowded planting of tiny plants struggling against each other for light. Not so good for the air circulation, either, and some of my lettuce can end up composting itself if we get a few days of rain.
No big deal, though: just get in there with the scissors and thin it out. Cut off some of those tiny lettuce plants right at soil level when they’re just a few inches high, and start the salad season early. Thinning out will let the remaining plants grow better and avoid those nasty damp-related problems.
Slugs and Snails, Oh My!
Slugs and snails are the biggest threat to a nice salad garden, and you’ll have to be on your toes to keep ahead of them — they sneak out at dusk and can eat their way through a great deal of salad in one night, leaving silvery slimy trails all over the ragged green leaves, while you’re sleeping peacefully and all unawares… Unpleasant!