Growing salad leaves in a container
As I have mentioned in my previous blog we do container gardening on our porch. It is working wonderful. At the moment we have a good supply of salad leaves, we never have to go buy at the shops and it never goes off. There is also something extremely rewarding in growing and then being able to eat your own food, in our case a nice fresh salad!
In short we went to the nursery and got what we needed. At the moment the container grows jalapenos, green peppers and salad leaves. It sounds like a lot, but after experimenting with a few things we found these to work very well. The pot size is basically 100cm x 30cm and it comes up to your knee. Make sure your pot has holes in the bottom so water does not built up and your plants’ roots end up rotting. At the bottom throw a layer of small rocks and then fill with soil. When planting your salad throw a bit of bonemeal (as fertilizer) in the whole you dug for the plant, then add the plant and fill the soil and level out. Water immediately. Salad leaves wants enough sun and lots of water. They are like children especially when in a container. We always check the moistness of the ground and water it if dry, so keep soil moist.
We found our soil was very oily/fatty, it looked wet, but when you drew your finger through the soil it was dry just beneath the top soil. We heard washing powder (that you use for your clothes) works well in breaking the fattiness down. We tried it with a thin layer on top of the soil, we watered extra and the plants started to flourish after this. Especially the jalapenos and green peppers.
When cutting your plants to use the leaves for salad try to cut evenly from all plants, so that you don’t kill off by only cutting one, it will also look silly. Wash and use the leaves. You can keep them in the fridge for a few days as well. When the plants start bolting, shooting out flowers cut the flowers away to prolong the life of your plant – or rather the usable life. Once it starts to become bitter and hardened you can either let it shoot flowers and seed (which take forever) or pull the plants out and replace with new ones you get from your nursery (much easier and quicker). We tried the flower route and will not again.
Pests on your salad plants. We are lucky not being on the ground floor we have less of a snail problem, so we don’t have to be on the lookout for them. But to keep worms and lice away we use an organic poison that you spray onto the plants and after two days you can harvest your leaves again. We find this nice and quick and harmless.
I know this is all very basic, but when we started with our container garden everything was new and we wanted as much information in detail as possible.
After we started growing plants on our porch we gound it much more enjoyable to use. We are spending a lot more time there with sundowners and find it a treat to go into our ‘garden’ and ‘harvesting’ the salad leaves, jalapenos, green peppers or herbs that e will be using for preparing a meal.
I can only encourage you, do try growing something even if you are in a flat with no garden, if you can try something you can eat it is even more rewarding. And if it dies, it’s okay, buy a new or different plant and try again until you get the hang of the ‘gardening’ or what works best in your pot on your porch.