Salad Gardening
Published June 7, 2021 by Nicole Burke

Harvest Your Own Gourmet Salad Mix

Filed Under:
salad garden
salad
cool season vegetables
My gourmet salad right from the garden

After three years with my current kitchen garden setup, I had come to accept that my back two beds were the slowest to grow. They got the most shade and rarely produced as much as the showier beds up front. My garden was like the stereotype of a classroom where the slackers sit in the back and the overachievers sit up front, closest to the teacher. 

If I’m being honest, I probably paid more attention to the front beds. But I decided that this spring would be the season I finally got some success from the back two beds. I sprinkled seeds from a packet called Siamese Dragon Stir Fry Mix Salad Blend by Johnny’s Selected Seeds around the back beds. It’s a mesclun mix, so the idea is to produce an assortment of small salad greens. I kept the back beds well-watered but otherwise went back to semi-neglecting them.

After just one month, there was mizuna, mustard, arugula, red Russian Kale, and tatsoi popping up. These are all mostly from the Brassica family and have a great peppery taste to them. Within just a few weeks, I had turned an unproductive, slow-growing bed into a gourmet salad garden. 

To harvest my greens, I take a little strainer and a pair of scissors into the garden with me. I grab some leaves, almost like I’m gathering hair in a ponytail, and cut along the same height line across that spot in the garden. That way, the leaves will grow back at about the same level. To encourage continued growth that will allow you to cut and come again, it’s best to either take a little bit from small portions of the bed or take from one spot and then move to other spots throughout the week. I’ve found that you can return every week or so and do this several times with salad mixes.

Once you’ve harvested your salad greens, you could try making my favorite dressing, a delicious blend of equal parts EVOO, apple cider vinegar, and honey, plus a pinch of salt.

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So why is this salad mix so productive in my back beds? 

First of all, I sowed so many seeds that as they grew, they provided great soil cover. Without exposed soil, the plants are less likely to get dehydrated due to evaporation. The soil around these little guys has stayed nice and moist. 

Secondly, regular harvesting means you can take the bigger leaves and leave the smaller leaves to grow. Even when they’re tightly planted, those smaller leaves now have more access to sunlight, water, and energy from the plant. They might never grow to be really huge, but they will continue to grow without too much trouble. Keeping them pruned back and harvesting regularly also eases pest pressure on the plants because they receive plenty of air and light flow.

Handful of salad from the garden

These plants prefer cooler weather, so this is a great spring and fall project. If you have a small outdoor space that you want to make productive, toss a mesclun seed mix there and see what happens! You might just be harvesting your own gourmet salad in 30 days.