Grow Your Own

May 17th, 2011 | Posted by Alison Spath in Healthy Habits

Last year we devoted an entire bed in our garden to growing spinach, moving in other vegetable plants when all the spinach we’d planted had been harvested.  I absolutely loved growing my own spinach, and I especially loved the ease at which I could bolt out the back door, snag a couple of leaves from the ground and shove it into a wrap, salad or sandwich and then straight into my mouth.  Local and organic?  These are a few of my favorite things.

In fact, I enjoyed this whole greens growing business so much that I wanted to do it again this year.  Times two.  This time, two beds are involved and three different kinds of green grub are getting in the mix.

Move over, Spinach.  You’ve got company.

Dear Spinach,

I’d like to introduce you to your new roommates, Red Leaf and Kale.  I know you’re gonna be great pals.  (And an even better lunch.)

Red Leaf Kale

(Oh yeah, the pea plants are moving in this year too.)

Peas Too

Each of member of my salad sorority has been making some real head way now that it’s finally warming up here in the north east (the last few days excluded… <insert fist shaking at the sky here>) and it got me thinking how stinkin’ easy it is to grow your own greens.

(How easy is it, Alison?)

Growing your own greens is SO easy that anybody can do it.  Yes, even you, the one looking at your thumb wishing it were green.

And you know what?  I’ll even do it with you.  I expect the greens in my garden to be done and completely harvested by late spring.  I’d like to see if I can have a smattering of homegrown greens in my salads through the whole summer and into early fall, so I’ve decided to embark on a little edible container gardening adventure this year to hopefully accomplish just that.

To get started, all you’ll need is a container, soil and seeds.  Feel free to skip the seedling part and just get some plants from a gardening center like Home Depot, Lowes or your local hippie grocery store.

You don’t even have to run out and buy anything fancy or expensive for a container.  All you’ll need is something that allows for drainage (or something you can drill some in) and enough depth for 4 – 6 inches of soil will do.  Got any old clay pots laying around?  16 oz tin cans?  Plastic bottles destined to be recycled or large yogurt containers?  Who cares if it’s pretty!  The greens will make you witty.

I went with the “What Do I Have Laying Around Here?” approach and dragged out the husband-crafted flower box from the garage about two weeks ago,

Window Box

and filled it with compost.

Who needs flowers?  Flowers are for pansies!  (OK, don’t be insulted flower growers of the world – it’s just a pun.)

Filled with Compost

Next I sprinkled the organic mixed variety lettuce seeds (purchased at said local hippie grocery store) on top of the soil.  This mixed variety lettuce sprouts in 5 – 10 days and should be mature (that is, in my salad bowl) in less than a month.

Lettuce Seeds

The seed sprinkling was followed by a sprinkling of dirt, then some water.  You’ll want to keep the top of the soil moist – but not soaked – while your seeds are in the germination stage.  I typically water mine every morning, usually when I’m putzing around the yard after a run, bike ride or really awesome dream.

See?  That’s it!  Easy greensy.  Now Mary Mary, just sit back and look at your container garden grow.

Another nice perk to container gardening is that if your container isn’t very large or overly heavy, you can move it around to get more sun or shade as needed.

Side of the House

My container has been hanging out along the east side of the house as to not take a beating from direct sunlight all day long. I plan to move it to the front porch (north side) as soon as the mood strikes or some small child runs into it with their bicycle.

Here we are as of this morning, about two weeks since I first went sewing the seeds (of love. Tears for Fears anyone?)

1989 Hair

(I think that’s exactly what my hair looked like in 1989 actually.)

Oh right. Baby greens.  Going on two and a half weeks old here.

Two Weeks Later

Home grown greens are as local as they come. I’m excited to see what grows from my “Gourmet Lettuce Mix” and hope to sink my teeth into their snooty leaves in just a few short weeks.  I bought a couple extra packets of seeds (including arugla, butterleaf and a different mixed green variety) to sprinkle in among the plants that are waiting to be pulled every three weeks or so, to replace those that have been harvested and chomped.  This should allow me to maintain a continuous supply of green goodness all summer long, even well after the salad sisters have been booted from their beds.

There’s still plenty of time to get your green thumb on – you can get started today!  Or tomorrow!  Or even this weekend.  Now go grow something, will ya?

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9 Responses

  • rawkinmom says:

    I tried growing spinach once and I most have done something wrong because it didn’t work!! However, I have had great success with kale and chard!!! YUM!!! I bought my seeds from that same company this year too…it was my first time and I am really excited to see how their seeds compare to most!

  • I’m growing arugula for the first time this summer. We’ve had rain for the past week though, and forecasted to have rain for the next week as well. Great entry, I wish more people grew their own food (at least some of it).

    • Alison says:

      I’ve actually got arugula growing in the flower box now too! I sprinkled some seeds later with the wee tiny mixed green plants and am looking forward those peppery leaves among the rest!

  • Cindy says:

    I’ve grown lettuce twice.

    once the snails at it, and the second….I have no idea.

    I’ve been scared to ever try it again…but hey, I DO have ugly old pots lying in the side yard…

    you’ve got me wondering if I could give it a shot. It’s been a good season for my lil garden (FINALLY) so I might just give it a shot now!

    grow baby grow!!!!


  • Jen says:

    I like the new fonts or whatever you did!

    @ Cindy–when mine don’t grow from seed due to snails, I go to the hardware store and buy them 1/2 grown. Those usually survive. Well, until I eat them.

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