Gardening 101

words & Photos By Rowan Helliwell

1 | CHOOSING YOUR SEEDS

A blend of Mesclun mix, oriental greens, or lettuce mix for raised beds or container planting in the spring is perfect. You can choose Mustard Greens and Arugula to add spice, Chicory, Endive, Dandelion to add bitter or straight up gourmet salad blends. There are so many choices. Pick your favorites and give it a try. Some blends to try: Mighty Micro Salad Medley, Super Gourmet Salad, Fast And Furious Blend, West Coast Market Mix, Global Gourmet Mesclun, and the City Gardener. All of these will bring diversity to your salad and to your taste buds as well.

 

2 | PREPPING THE SOIL

Fill your containers with screened compost or if you are planting raised beds, turn over your soil, break up clumps from the winter rains and mix in your compost. Using a leaf rake to smooth the soil will give you a even planting surface.

 

3 | PLANTING YOUR SEEDS

Lightly scatter your seeds over the soil. Use a leaf rake or your hands to gently cover the seeds. If you are planting smaller pots, make sure not to over seed. You can also purchase seed pellets that will give you the right amount of seeds per inch for planting in pots. The final planting step is to water in the seeds using a watering can or a nozzle on your hose. Keep the soil moist and watch those baby greens grow!

 

4 | THE HARVEST

As your seedlings grow, you can thin them out and use the micro-greens in your salads. Start to harvest the leaves when they are 4” high by picking individual leaves. Using scissors to snip the leaves is a delicate way of selecting leaves without disturbing the roots. Yum.

 

5 | KEEPING THE DIRT HAPPY

After harvesting individual leaves with the “cut and come again” method, fertilize using a liquid fertilizer to boost the nitrogen in the soil every few weeks. Rotating your crop and or containers, you can re-seed every three weeks. This is a sure way of keeping the greens coming. You are on your way to producing the best salads ever! A liquid fertilizer super high in nitrogen is worm castings tea. It is fairly simple to make and you will be amazed at the growth of your plants. Look on-line for a recipe and get steeping.

 
Salad greens like sun in the spring but as the weather warms up and the sun gets hot, the plants will tend to bolt. Reemay works as a row cover and is a plant saver in the garden. It can be placed directly over the plants or over hoop frames to protect against the sun and frost. It’s very light and allows 75% light transmission to the plants underneath. It is also provides frost protection and will keep your kale going all winter.

In the fall mulching with seaweed from the beach is a great way to feed the soil all the extra minerals that it might be lacking. The composted seaweed can be turned into the soil in the spring and will do wonders for your plants. Water restrictions and a dryer growing season give even more reason to mulch. Mulching around your plants with straw is a great way to keep the moisture in and the weeds away. The seaweed and straw mulch will also help keep all the nutrients in the soil when the rains come. Happy growing.




Category: 101, Volume 2