26 Jun SALAD LOVERS’ GARDEN
Say you’re like me and you love eating salad. Okay, now say that you love growing your own food, specifically your salad ingredients. I’m right there with you, but are you also like me and you get really tired of eating the same old lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad? I knew it! Lucky for you, I got tired of this about a year ago and started growing some different salad ingredients to shake things up a bit. So here’s for all you salad lovers out there — the time for boring salads is over, my friends.
Microgreens: Writing this article reminds me that it’s time to start another batch of microgreens. So easy, fun, and rewarding to grow, microgreens are tiny edible veggie and herb greens that are smaller than baby greens (also fun to grow!) and bigger than sprouts. And contrary to growing sprouts, microgreens are grown in soil, and only the stems and leaves are eaten. Almost any plant can be grown and harvested at microgreen stage including kale, spinach, watercress, chia, sunflower, radish, beet, and any lettuce. The flavor is sweet and delicate while the nutrition level is amped up.
Edible flowers: Edible flowers have been the darling of the culinary world for a couple of years now — they are at once humble and sophisticated, adding a pop of unexpected color and zip to any Plain Jane salad. My favorites are violas and nasturtiums, but for more edible flower ideas, check out “7 Edible Flowers and Why You Should Eat Them.” And remember — only flowers that have been grown specifically for ingesting, and without pesticides, should be eaten.
Asian greens: The wide range of Asian greens adds diverse flavors, colors, and textures to an otherwise ho-hum salad. Look for seed packets of mizuna, tatsoi, choi sum, water spinach, Napa cabbage, pea shoots, and bok choy, among others. I like to use these in a unique salad mix, similar to the “spring mix” of salad greens that you see at the grocery store.
Herbs: All sorts of herbs blend beautifully into salads, yet we often forget to add them in. Love basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, and parsley? Go outside and clip a few leaves off, but choose one type per salad and use them sparingly as their flavors can be intense. I love adding mint to Greek or even south-of-the-border inspired salads, and parsley to almost anything.
New varieties of old favorites: Yes, we’re always going to love tomatoes and cucumbers in our salads, but you can experiment with new and exciting varieties of these old favorites to add a little twist. For example, I’m growing a variety of cherry tomatoes that ripen quickly and have the sweetest taste — I just cut them in half and toss them in. My favorites are Sun Gold and Black Cherry. Or instead of your regular cucumbers, try growing a lemon cucumber — it’s smaller and round with the yellow color of a lemon, and the flesh adds a zippy citrus tang to your greens.
About the Author:
Jenny Peterson is a landscape designer and urban farmer living in Austin, Texas. She comes from a family of gardeners and her gardens include drought-tolerant plants, herbs, veggies, and a wildflower pollinator garden. As a breast cancer survivor, Jenny specializes in gardens that heal from the inside out.