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Simple Salad Window Box
The grow your own bug is spreading. If the media are to believed everyone is getting in on growing their own food. Even the Queen and First Family are at it. Though not all of us are blessed with land to have our own 1100 square foot veg patch, with just a little effort, a couple of pounds, and a small amount of window space, everyone can grow a tasty healthy salad.
Table of Contents
To grow some mixed salad leaves on your kitchen window sill requires a bare minimum of items. You don't even need any gardening tools (Well maybe scissors to open the bag of compost).
- Packet of seeds (see below)
- Window box
- Potting compost
Which seeds you go for will depend a lot on which type of salad leaves you like best, I went with Mixed Salad Leaves but you could easily go with Mixed Italian salad or Mixed French salad or even Spicy oriental salad mix if that is what you fancy. You could even go for mixing up some of all of the above. It is upto you.
The window box you go for is largely dependant on the space you have on your window and how much salad you want to grow. I went with a 34cm (13 3/8") plastic one which cost me £ 1.49 from Wilkinsons. It doesn't have to be plastic, a terracotta one would work just as well. You don't even need to go with a window box, a row of small pots would work well too. Again you can choose.
For the potting compost I went with a 99p bag of all purpose potting compost from Asda. This bag is about 15l in capacity, and is more than enough for a small window box as suggested above. If you are going to use it elsewhere, a bigger bag will be more economical. I chose the small 15l bag as it was small enough to fit in a backpack for the walk home from the shops.
That's it, nothing particularly fancy required.
Assuming you have now gone and got all the parts you need, next comes the fun part. The process of planting this lot is so simple, it barely needs explaining, but for completeness, here goes.
Fill the window box with compost to a level about an 1.5cm from the top. Next carefully sprinkle a layer of seeds on the top of the compost. You want to aim for the seeds to be quite thin, but not too thin, one or two every 1-2cm should be enough. If you got a window box the same size as I did you will probably use a small fraction of the seeds in the pack, keep what is left, you can use this for another sowing once this one has all been eaten. Next up, sprinkle a fine layer of compost on top of the seeds. You are looking for thin covering, no more than about 0.5cm (1/4"). Then all that is left is to water it. You don't want to flood the box, a light sprinkle at this stage should be enough. I use a small cup for this.
That's it. Simple really. Place the window box on a sunny window sill (I like the kitchen window sill). Keep watering it every few days through its life and you should get a nice harvest of young tender salad leaves.
After about 3 weeks of attentive patience and careful watering (a little bit once a day, not to much, you should have a window box with a collection of leaves about 3-4 inches tall. Now you can finally start eating what you have lovingly grown.
Harvesting is pretty simple, using a pair of scissors cut off the leaves that you want to eat. I personally like to start at one end and work towards the other. I find that about 1/6th of the box is enough for a single serving for me. Once I have cut an area I leave it, after a few days the leaves have grown back and I can start again. Generally I am cutting 3-4 servings a week off my box, which seems to allow plenty of time for it to regrow. Do note, be careful in your cutting, don't just hack off the top like cutting grass, try to select just the leaves you want so as to not cut back the new growth underneath. Simple as that! Add the leaves you have cut to your meals just like you would with store bought salad leaves.
Assuming you have followed my instructions attentively, you should have managed to get yourself numerous delicous cheap salads. But alas all things must come to an end, and after you have harvested all of your box 3-4 times, you will find that it isn't growing back as well as it was. Luckily, you should still have most of the seeds in the packet left, and hopefully enough compost left over to fill the box again. So, put the spent compost and the old salad leaves on the compost heap, or into your council composting bin, and start over again. If you wish you can have a pair of window boxes, planted about a month apart, and you should never be without fresh tasty salad leaves. All at a bargain price.
There is no need to limit yourself to just a window box of salad leaves. There are numourous other plants you could grow as well. By far the simplest is Cress, plant the seeds on a peice of kitchen roll on a small saucer, soak the tissue with water, and you should be ready to harvest in 7 days.
If you have abit more space available, say on another window sill, a balcony, patio, or even a garden, then you could also try Beetroot, Radishes or Onions. All three of which should be harvestable in 6-12 weeks depending on how big you want them to get and the temperature. The options are endless.