How about planting a salad and smoothie garden that will be ready in time for summer, I’m going to do this myself and can’t wait to get started after reading this fantastic article from Palmers Planet, smoothies and salads are something we eat daily over the warmer months, I’m looking forward to having all the fresh greens we need right at our fingertips.
“First thing you need to do is pick a spot to grow your salad greens. A place with at least six hours of sunlight is best. You don’t need a big space. You can grow straight into the soil you already have but you want to improve the soil quality by adding sheep manure and compost. Blood and bone and lime are also good additives to the salad garden to help your greens thrive. Raised gardens are a great idea as they keep things neat and tidy, aid in drainage of the soil, are easy on your back and it’s very easy to get to everything when it comes to harvesting. Containers are also a good option when it comes to the salad garden and if you lack space.
Once you have your position picked out and have added those goodies to the soil to make for happy plants, the next thing you need to ask yourself is what you actually want to grow. First time gardeners may prefer to grow from seedlings rather than seed at first. Things I find great in a salad and green smoothie garden are:
In my opinion kale is one of the easiest vegetables to grow, and I have been told by many people that it’s food for stock which always makes me laugh because I have this growing year round to add to my smoothies.
Kale grows really well in winter but you can grow it at all times of the year. I find the biggest problems in the heat of summer is white fly, which you can combat with an organic insecticide and also regular liquid feeding helps. There is a few different varieties of kale but one of my favourites is “squire” kale which is also known as “curly” kale as its more compact for a small space. Kale is known as a super food and there is many health benefits to including this one in your daily smoothie.
I try to go for loose leaf lettuces rather than the heading varieties as you can continue to pick these and they also take less room in the garden then heading varieties. There is a variety of different colours, tastes and textures to choose from so you can make your salads quite interesting.
Some good beginner lettuce varieties are buttercrunch, which has soft green leaves and can be grown at all times of the year, cos lettuce which is a crisp upright lettuce and drunken woman which has a soft red colour and a sweet taste. There is a lot of choice so have fun choosing your favourite.
Grow lettuce in two week intervals to make sure you always have some to harvest. Good drainage is a must for lettuce as they hate having wet feet and make sure to prevent the slugs and snails from eating them by using snail baits or traps.
Rocket provides a stronger, peppery taste to salads. It is a very fast growing salad green, taking only a few weeks to mature, so again growing in two week intervals will help keep the supply going or you may prefer to keep a regular supply of seed to sow direct into the soil.
Rocket is one of those greens that can handle some shade as well so if you run out of space in the full sun garden, they won’t mind a shady spot.
Without a doubt a must in my garden. I prefer to grow the perpetual spinach as it lasts a long time, it’s packed with nutrients and it tastes great in smoothies, it’s a little bit more mild then kale for a different smoothie taste. It also tastes great in salads, harvest when the leaves are young. The key to growing spinach is not to let it dry out as it may bolt and go to seed.
Mizuna has a mild peppery taste that adds a bit of zing to your salad, a fast growing crop, that only takes a few weeks to mature. It can also handle sun or shade. Keep mizuna well watered as it may otherwise go to seed.
This is usually a blend of salad greens that may include rocket, mizuna, mustard greens and lettuce. This is great for the beginner gardener, and if you like all of the above might be great to plant for ease.
I like to plant all my greens quite close together as it looks pretty, is easy for harvesting and saves space. Water regularly through summer and liquid feed at least every fortnight for a colourful salad and smoothie garden. Hope you get growing because nothing beats fresh.”
For all your gardening supplies, tips, recipes and planting information go to palmersplanet.co.nz