Step-by-Step: Growing Salad Greens
How to grow salad greens in a container garden.
If you want to fill containers with edible plants, says Stone Barns's Jack Algiere, it's best to cluster the pots together so that they create cool pockets of air in the spaces between them. Water religiously, since soil in pots dries out faster than in the ground, and maximize yield by planting high-volume producers, like cherry tomatoes versus full-size varieties, and plants that can produce multiple crops, like chard, pattypan squash, and lettuces that can be harvested repeatedly. Most important, though, Algiere says, "plant what you like to eat."
‘Sun Gold’ tomato, common thyme, and ‘Giant from Italy’ parsley.
Put one tomato plant in the center of a large pot (at least 14 inches across and 16 inches tall), providing a trellis support so that fruited branches don't snap under their own weight. Fill out the base of the pot with two plants each of thyme and parsley.
Johnny's Allstar Gourmet Lettuce Mix
In a pot that's 12 inches across and ten to 12 inches tall, sow seeds as directed, being careful not to sow too thickly. Whenever plants reach four inches in height, harvest by shearing off all leaves, leaving one inch of growth above the ground. Once plants lose vigor and begin to yellow, dig out entire crop and reseed. If you have more pots, suggests Algiere, plant one with a straight run of a single type of lettuce.
‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard
This plant pulls more than its weight, given the multicolored stalks that make it a visual stunner and the prolific growth: if it's happy, chard seems to sprout a new leaf every time you turn your back. With good care, the plant should provide steady harvests from its outer leaves for months. It's best to set in plants rather than start from seed.
In a pot similar to the size used for lettuce, sow seeds as directed. You can expect to have a first harvest of baby leaves within about 13 days. Also known as roquette, arugula is an annual herb of the mustard family that adds a spicy punch to salads. ‘Astro’ is milder in flavor than some arugulas, and it's particularly suited to container planting because it's slower to bolt as temperatures rise.