Creating a salad that’s bursting with flavor and color is an art, but since most salad greens and enhancements go well together, it’s hard to go wrong. Here is our list of the 9 Salad Greens that every gardener should grow!
Most seed companies now carry a wide range of mixes and individual species and varieties that take the guesswork out of growing salad greens.
Salad Greens Variety
If you want to go beyond lettuce, try these delicious salad greens in your salads. You can eat some of them—spinach, arugula, and bok choy, for example—on their own, or mix them with lettuces and other greens like radicchio and mustard greens to give your salads spice and depth.
Mesclun mix can also be the base of a salad or be mixed in with other salad greens. And don’t forget red, green, and Savoy cabbage, which are excellent as accents in tossed salads or in starring roles in cole slaw.
All of these 9 Salad Greens that every gardener should grow will do great in raised beds, containers or planting directly into your garden beds.
9 Salad Greens that every gardener should grow
Also called rocket and roquette, arugula has a rich and peppery flavor. Sow seeds in early spring or fall, thinning seedlings to space plants four to six inches apart with 10 inches between rows. Use the plants that you thin out in salads and start harvesting mature greens in six to eight weeks. Arugula tends to bolt quickly in hot, dry weather so cut it often.
2. Bok Choy
Also called bok choi and pak choi, it’s the attractive cabbage relative with long, thick white stems and dark green leaves. Young bok choy is delicious in salads and makes a succulent cole slaw. Sow seeds in early spring or fall; grow like cabbage. Plants prefer cool growing conditions. Space plants 8 to 12 inches apart in the row and 12 inches between rows. You can harvest entire small heads or larger individual leaves.
A relative of endive and escarole, chicory (also called Witloof chicory or Belgian endive) is delicious as a winter salad green when forced indoors. Chicory adds a depth of flavor to any salad.
4. Endive and Escarole
The lacy, cream green, frilly leaves of endive are often called frisee, while the broad-leaved forms are often sold as escarole. Start these bitter greens indoors for an early summer harvest or in the garden in summer for an autumn crop, thinning plants to stand a foot apart.
Tip: That touch of bitterness is prized in Europe, adding sophistication to a potentially bland salad. Blanch plants for a buttery color and milder flavor.
Kale adds substance, color, and nutrition to a salad—the thick, blue-green, purple-green, green-black, or white-green leaves are packed with vitamins and minerals. Some varieties are deeply frilled while others are deeply puckered; all add texture and variety to a mixed salad. Kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods we can eat! Sow in early spring or late summer, thinning plants to one foot apart. Harvest the young leaves individually for salads or the larger leaves for a nice cooked Kale.
This attractive, compact green or red plant matures in 35 days, tolerates heat, and is easy to grow. Serrated leaves add a cabbagy, peppery flavor to salads. The contrast in color and flavor definitely takes your salad to a whole new level. Sow seeds in early spring; grow like spinach.
7. Mustard Greens
Attractive red or green loose-leaf or heading mustards—loose-leaf types mature in 45 days; heading mustards need 60 to 75 days to head up. Plants tolerate heat some and light frost, and they’re easy to grow. Leaves of oriental mustard varieties tend not to be as hot or bitter as Southern mustard greens. Direct-seed in early spring or fall, barely covering with soil. Space plants six inches apart in the row, thinning to 10 inches; leave 10 to 12 inches between rows.
This bitter Italian heading chicory has become a favorite of salad lovers everywhere. Its gorgeous deep garnet, white-based leaves add rich color and texture to salads, and the flavor adds sophistication. Start indoors as with endive and escarole for spring planting; space six inches apart when you transplant them outdoors. Plants form tight, four-inch heads.
This salad staple can be harvested when the leaves are small to use whole in salads or when they’re mature. Sow seeds in early spring and late summer for spring and fall crops, thinning to four to six inches apart—you can use the seedlings that you thin out in salads or stir-fries. Spinach is rich in vitamins and minerals, so it’s one of the healthiest salad choices.
There are literally thousands of choices when it comes to varieties to grow for your salads. We have grown different varieties over the years. Every single person should try to grow salad greens in their backyard garden.
What is your favorite of these 9 Salad Greens that every gardener should grow?
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