I am working on a class in early March and participants will be planting up a salad container to take home. There is nothing better than being able to harvest fresh salad greens in spring for use in the kitchen.
Many gardeners in this community live in condos and townhouses so I decided to plan something that will do double duty in their gardens. When you have limited space you want all your containers to look great. I want my container plantings to be not only edible but pretty. When you are gardening in a small space you want that wow factor. You want a container that embodies the three basics, thriller, filler and spiller.
So this week I am in the greenhouse planting seeds. The thriller for my container planting will be Swiss chard ‘Neon Glow’. I had some swiss chard seeds that have either yellow or red stalks. I will use the swiss chard as the center or back plant depending on where the container will be located. If the container is seen from all sides, it will become the center plant. If a container is up against a wall the swiss chard will go towards the back of the container.
I planted twenty six-packs of seeds up for the class as I have space for that many gardeners. In one section I have swiss chard planted as we only need one plant for each person.
In the other sections I planted red and green lettuce, spinach and a salad mix. These plants will be the filler in the container. I have used the salad mix before and had lovely chervil and arugula from it. What I love about the salad mix is you can cut it and it keeps coming back. You don’t have to harvest the whole plant, just snip a few leaves off when needed. Wasn’t I surprised to see my seeds germinating in the greenhouse. Tiny salad greens starting to grow in just four days!
To go with the salad greens and swiss chard I will need a spiller plant. Above I planted ‘Tom Thumb’ peas. They are a shorter variety of peas suitable for containers and will cascade over the side. They only grow to about 9″ high. Peas are another early cool season vegetable and can be started outside as soon as any chance of frost has passed.
You are probably wondering why I am planting seeds in January. It can take up to six weeks for plants to grow and seeds germinate at different times. I want the plants to be nice and fresh and full for my class. Yes, I could have gone to the garden center and bought them in March but that isn’t fun. This way I get to decide what to grow. Another reason to start now is we had a very warm May last year. It caused several of our cool season crops like lettuce to bolt and go to seed. I hope to enjoy salad greens earlier this year.
Are you interested in learning how to grow plants for your kitchen garden? I am giving a class at the Harris Barn in Ladner on March 8 from 6:00pm-7:00pm. Here is the link to register. Click on gardening for a list of garden classes. Growing From Seed for Your Kitchen Garden