Tossing together a salad is a great lunch option or side dish to a hearty meal. However, salad greens from the store can spoil fast in the fridge if you don’t use them the same week you bought them. Instead, try these four tips for growing leafy greens at home so that you always have them on hand, which will save you money!
Swiss Chard and Leaf Lettuce
“Salad greens are so easy to grow, and they’re an excellent source of vitamins and minerals,” says Gary Pilarchik (The Rusted Garden on YouTube), author of The Modern Homestead Garden (Buy on Amazon, $16.99). And light, mild leaf lettuce and slightly sweet Swiss chard pair perfectly in salads. To grow your own, Pilarchik suggests filling a window box with potting mix and planting Swiss chard and leaf lettuce seeds one inch apart. To add color, remove calibrachoa plants from their nursery pots and nestle into the soil around the edge of the box. Give the box full sun and water every other day. Harvest leaves when they are about three to four inches long in about six to eight weeks.
Enjoy! Top Swiss chard and leaf lettuce with walnuts, dried cherries, and lemon vinaigrette for a pleasantly tart surprise.
“When grown during cooler months, spinach has a deliciously sweet taste that I love,” notes Pilarchik. Plus, the greens are rich in iron. For the best results, plant spinach seeds one inch apart in a large pot filled with potting mix, then give soil a light feeding of a water-soluble organic fertilizer. Give spinach plants full sun and water every other day. Harvest leaves when they are two to three inches long, in about six weeks.
Enjoy! For a seasonal salad, toss spinach with sliced apples, almonds, feta cheese, and Dijon mustard mixed with red wine vinegar and olive oil.
“Calcium-rich kale can tolerate a frost; therefore, the plants will keep producing well into the fall season until the roots freeze,” says Pilarchik. Simply remove a Nero di Toscana kale plant (from the nursery) from its plastic pot and drop it into a large pot filled with potting mix. Nero di Toscana can grow to be 12 to 24 inches tall, so Pilarchik suggests inserting a stake into soil to give the plant support as it grows upright. Give full sun and water every other day. Harvest leaves from the bottom of the plant once the plant is at least 12 inches tall, in four to five weeks.
Enjoy! Remove stems from kale and toss leaves with Parmesan, croutons, and a creamy Caesar dressing.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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