How to grow your own salad leaves - it's easy! (and you can save lots of £££)

Tips for Growing Salad

Growing salad is really easy.  It's not time-consuming, it's not expensive, and you can be cutting your 'cut and come again' salad in around a month after sewing (sometimes more quickly) I thought I'd wax-lyrical about the benefits in the hope that I might convert a few of you into salad growers!

Save £££'s

OK, so growing your own salad is not going to pay for your next holiday....  but it is a fairly big chunk of change if you like eating salad regularly.

This bag of salad is £1.25 a pack (£1.39 per 100g) - It doesn't seem like loads of money when you're shopping and you just want some lovely fresh salad for your tea / lunch. I've seen packs for up to £3 before now and they're all growable in the UK!

With a teeny amount of prep and planning and a little space you could be growing your own from April through to September. Saving (if you're a two-bagger a week) at least £75.  AND - you can choose what you like, so you won't be restricted to what they put in the bags, mix your own perfect bags. Just have peppery rocket or just have baby spinach leaves and beetroot leaves.

You can pick up a pack of a single type or mixed seeds for around £2 - go to your garden centre or b&q and you may even find an on offer pack for 50p - look for the words 'speedy salad' if you want to be eating salad within 3 weeks.  Packs include on average 250 seeds, but I've seen 800+ seeds for £3 - have a little shop around.

Cut and come again

The salad leaves you want to look for are 'cut and come again' - you snip what you need and it regrows - so through the summer you will prob have too much salad if you were to sow it all.

Successional sowing. For the lovely (and potentially healthier) young leaves, you need to sow every 6-8 weeks, but this is such minimal work for so much return - you will have 2 - 3 bags of salad easily each week! 

Benefits of growing salad leaves

Save lots of money (enough to buy some better quality meat or wine from the supermarket throughout summer - or just dosh to save for essentials)

Grow organic - you know what chemicals you have not used! (can't be sure when you buy a bag from the shops) and that means you'll save even more as organic is more expensive to buy.

Healthy Vitamins that go direct from the ground into your mouth! I like to pick mine 10 mins max before I serve. It actually makes me enjoy it more if I pick it myself - if you have little kids they might be quite chuffed by this responsibility (kids love a good excuse to chop stuff!)

Therapy Growing is just the best thing for your stress levels - time away from stressy life with your hand in some soil/compost.

No plastic - thank you very much Sir David Attenborough!

Make people happy! You'll probably sow too much...  a great way to treat your friends and family! Have a bag of yummy salad for FREE!

Costs and Tips

Seeds - I think you can do April to September for a family of four for less than a fiver! (less than the price of 3 bags of salad) - go to B&Q, your local garden centre or have a look on Amazon - it's pretty basic stuff so no need for 'the best' just weigh up the cost against the number of seeds included. Try and get mixed or single salad packets that include things you know you (and fam) love, some homegrown rocket might be so hot your kids will refuse it!  Check the sow by date on the pack.

Compost - £3-5 from a supermarket, a general purpose compost if growing in pots. However if you have a border with a bit of space you can get seeds started from May (wait until after the last frost to sow - pop something over the bed you'll be sowing in to warm it up over winter and kill weeds) I like to make my own compost, but you need to seive it to make a fine tilth for the seeds.

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Sow into moist soil - otherwise the seeds will all float about when you water afterwards - you'll need a little spray bottle or a watering can with a rose so you're waterering very gently while the seeds are starting to germinate and put down some roots.

Warm soil - if it's cold the seeds may struggle to germinate, you can buy little propogators (plastic trays with clear platic covers) fairly cheap to get them started, or wait until May when it will be warmer if sowing outside.

Sow sparingly - don't sow the whole pack, just do a small area - 1 foot square would be plenty.  You'll need another area where you can start more seeds off a few weeks later so that's ready for when the first bed gets a little tired.  I never do mine in drills, just sprinkle the seeds and cover very lightly with compost.

Time - the intitial sowing will take you 10 mins max! Then you just need to make watering part of your weekly routine.  Doesn't have to be daily, you'll get a grip on how quickly your pots or beds go dry.  If you plant outside then there's less watering.

Pests / Slugs - I haven't used anything in my greenhouse, but if they were outside I might use some natural slug and snail controls to ensure my leaves look lovely. The occasional hole is not a problem for most people...  but can be for a slightly fussy eater.  Sprinkle eggshells to deter slugs, they don't like slithering on them.