Grow your own salad bowl garden

For many of us, green salads are a dinner-time staple.  There are so many greens that are not available at your local grocery store, so why not expand your salad horizons and try growing your own greens.  A simple way to do this is to grow several different types of greens in a single container, called a salad bowl garden which is a simple beginning to an edible garden.

To get started first select an appropriate growing container.  The best plants to use in a salad bowl garden do not have very deep roots, so a deep container is unnecessary.  Any container that is ~8” deep will work great.  Try a decorative container that will not only be a space to grow your edible plants but also be a beautiful feature on your deck or patio.

Before planting, fill the container with 1-2” rocks or broken clay pot pieces to facilitate drainage.  Then fill the container with your favorite potting soil, preferably an organic one since we will be eating the plants that grow in it.

3 great plants to use in a salad bowl garden are máche, Swiss chard and lettuce.  By using these 3 plants you can maximize the growing capacity of the container. máche is very low growing and will take advantage of growing under the lettuce and kale.  The kale will grow the tallest, which will provide some shade to the lettuce.  This will be beneficial when it comes to the warmer months of the year when lettuce that is not shaded will do poorly.

The next step will be to plant the seeds in your container according to the planting depth instructions on the package.  There is no need to create any type of organization to how you plant the seeds.  In fact it will look much better to have the plants growing randomly in the container.  The final step is to water the soil and keep moist for 10-14 days until the seeds germinate and begin to emerge from the soil.

Harvest the outer leaves of each plant as you need them for your salads and enjoy fresh greens from your salad bowl garden throughout the year.  You might even be inspired to expand your edible garden.

Native Plants That Can be Toxic to Pets

There are several plants that are quite toxic to pets and livestock. Listing them all would take an entire book of their own. These two native plants are highlighted for this article, to bring a heads up to the dangers that may be lurking in gardens nearby. Plant any of these far away from any grazing livestock or pets. More plants can be found at the link at the end of the article.

Arisaema triphyllum (L.) Schott (Jack in the Pulpit)

You’ll find this one next to watery slopes, waterfalls, or your local watering hole. Growing up to 2 feet, these have green streaked with purple “pulpits”. There are basal leaves that stay in clumps at the base of the stalk. These have red shiny clustered berries for fruit. Beware: Jack in the Pulpit’s have calcium oxalate crystals present all in the plant and are toxic to most pets. Take care where you have these, but the beauty is astounding.

Asclepias incarnata L. (Swamp Milkweed)

This flower is a favorite among butterflies. It gets up to 2-3 feet high and you need to space it around 18-24 inches apart. It prefers sun to partial shade in acidic soil. The flowers are pink or purple, and bloom from mid-summer to late fall. It is a clump forming plant, and you can divide these clumps to propagate or just direct sow the seeds outside after frost. Milkweeds tend to be susceptible to aphids, but being that they are the only plant that the Monarch Butterfly’s larvae can survive on makes it worth it. It is a fragrant and beautiful plant to have in any garden. Beware: All parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested.
Read more at Suite101: Native Plants that Can be Toxic to Pets: Beware of These Four