How to grow your own salad leaves – and never buy them bagged again

'Salads are among the easiest vegetables to grow at home, regardless of the size of your outdoor space'
Brown: 'Salads are among the easiest vegetables to grow at home, regardless of the size of your outdoor space' - Alamy Stock Photo

Bagged salad must be one of the most popular things to pop into our shopping baskets, but salads are among the easiest vegetables to grow at home, regardless of the size of your outdoor space. Cut-and-come-again salad leaves are easy to grow in containers, and by regularly removing the outer leaves, you can have a fresh supply of home-grown salad for weeks.

Most general-purpose, peat-free composts are suitable for growing your leaves. Choose a reasonably sized container with a diameter of around 12in, avoiding very shallow pots, as the smaller container will result in the compost drying out more quickly and encourage your plants to produce flowers, diverting their energy away from the leaves.

Step One

It is important that your container has adequate drainage; if the drainage hole is large, then place a few pieces of terracotta or stones over the hole to prevent the compost seeping out and making a mess.

Step Two

Fill your container with compost, sifting the compost through your fingers to break up any large lumps.

Step Three

Water your compost well, to the point of saturation; this will produce a moist, flat and level surface, allowing you a bit of space at the top to sow and cover your seeds.

Step Four

Sow your seeds thinly, evenly distributing the seed throughout the entire surface of the pot, right up to the edges.

Step Five

Cover the seeds with compost, again breaking up any large lumps by rubbing the compost through your hands.

Aftercare

There should be enough moisture within the compost to trigger germination from that initial watering. As plants grow, do not allow the compost to dry out.

Feed once a week with a seaweed feed, once the seedlings have germinated and have produced a second pair of leaves, to keep the plants in tip-top condition.

If you find that your salad leaves are starting to produce flowers, then remove those flowers, but if the vigour of the leaves continues to be compromised then start the process again.

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