Salad from scratch

Grow­ing your own greens pro­duces re­ward­ing, chem­i­cal-free food

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - HOMES - By Sharla Kan­ski

THIS year, take ad­van­tage of the ease and sim­plic­ity of grow­ing your own salad greens. It’s easy and affordable and you’ll love the en­hanced flavour your sal­ads will have us­ing freshly grown greens.

Not only will your taste buds love the ex­pe­ri­ence, but one of the ben­e­fits of “grow­ing your own” is you’ll know what has been done to the plants — mean­ing, no chem­i­cals!

As well, many salad crops are de­scribed as ‘cut and come again’ which means you just snip off leaves when you need them and leave the rest of the plant to keep grow­ing un­til it’s ready to har­vest again.

A won­der­ful “salad green pro­ject” is Mesclun, a mix­ture of leafy greens whose name is de­rived from a Provençal French term mean­ing “to mix” or “mix­ture.”

Whether you’re new to gar­den­ing or just want to try some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, this op­tion is def­i­nitely worth con­sid­er­ing.

The won­der­ful ar­ray of de­li­cious greens is not only de­li­cious but their unique colours and tex­tures of­fer a cer­tain or­na­men­tal qual­ity to their sur­round­ings when grown in con­tain­ers or gar­den beds. Pa­tio con­tain­ers look amaz­ing with the leafy greens of Mesclun grow­ing among the flow­ers.

An­other favourite to in­clude are beets or swiss chard. When young, these beau­ti­ful greens are tasty as a leafy veg­etable in sal­ads, and are ex­cel­lent steamed with but­ter once they’ve ma­tured. With beets, you also have a beet root at the end of the sea­son to en­joy as well.

An ad­di­tional ben­e­fit to grow­ing salad in­gre­di­ents such as Mesclun, beets or swiss chard is that they are di­rect-sow se­lec­tions. Di­rect-sow means the seeds are more suited to plant­ing in their fi­nal grow­ing place and do not need to be started early and in­doors, sav­ing time and space.

Di­rect-sow va­ri­eties should be sown into a soil that is fine in tex­ture and free of larger de­bris. It’s ben­e­fi­cial to work in some or­ganic mat­ter prior to plant­ing. This con­tin­u­ally im­proves soil struc­ture, which is key in main­tain­ing a high-yield­ing gar­den. weather crop, so many gar­den­ers avoid grow­ing it in the hottest part of the sum­mer and in­stead grow suc­ces­sive plant­ings in spring through early sum­mer and then start an­other crop in the early fall.

Swiss Chard Bright Lights. A dec­o­ra­tive rain­bow that is mild-tast­ing and easy to grow.

Spicy Mesclun Mix is ideal for con­tain­ers — a won­der­ful med­ley of red and green leaves that will heighten taste sen­sa­tions.

Mild Mesclun Mix. This mix of mild leafy greens and let­tuces is a great ad­di­tion to your gar­den, with strik­ing

reds and greens.

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