How to Grow Salad Greens in a Container

Make leafy dishes straight from your home garden with these tips for growing salad greens without having to prepare a bed in your yard.
Dividing Lettuce by Type

Dividing Lettuce by Type

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow!, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

From: DK Books - Ready Set Grow

Salad greens, like lettuce and spinach, grow quickly, and when you cut them, new ones form. Instead of sowing several seeds at the same time, plant a row every two weeks to provide a steady supply. Salad greens grow in full sun and most soil types are suitable. The seeds germinate in 1 week and the leaves are ready to harvest from 3 weeks. This project takes four weeks to complete.

Materials Needed:

  • planter
  • gravel
  • potting soil
  • salad greens seeds, like lettuce and spinach
  • kid-safe scissors
  • plastic milk jug
  • marker

Week 1: Prepare your planter

Put a thin layer of gravel in the base. Fill it with potting soil and water it well, then wait for the water to drain through, leaving the soil moist.

Wicker Garden Containers

Wicker Garden Containers

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow!, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Plant the seeds

Make a 1/2-inch-deep trench along the back of the planter and sow seeds thinly along it. Brush soil over them lightly with your fingertips. Water using a watering can.

Measure With a Ruler

Measure With a Ruler

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow!, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Keep your greens organized

Label each row with a marker made from one side of a plastic milk bottle and write the date on it when the row was sown.

Continuous Salad Green Supply

Continuous Salad Green Supply

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow!, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Prevent pests

Cover your planter with fine mesh netting to protect the seedlings from pests such as birds, slugs and snails. This netting will also prevent butterflies from laying their eggs, which hatch into hungry caterpillars. To keep your planter away from slugs and snails, place it on a tabletop, a windowsill or even a couple of bricks, rather than putting it on the ground.

Protect Lettuce with Fine Mesh Netting

Protect Lettuce with Fine Mesh Netting

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow!, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Week 2: Maintain the seedlings

Two weeks later, thin the first seedlings so your plants have room to grow. Make another trench in the middle of the planter and sow more seeds thinly, then cover them lightly with soil.

Lettuce Seedlings

Lettuce Seedlings

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow!, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Week 3: Harvest your salad greens

The first leaves will be ready to eat after about three weeks. Use scissors to cut about one inch (2.5 cm) above the base of the stem, leaving a stump that will grow into more leaves.

Tending Lettuce Leaves

Tending Lettuce Leaves

Photo by: DK - Ready, Set, Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready, Set, Grow!, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Week 4: Sow more seeds

After a further week, make another trench along the front of the planter and sow a third row. Thin the seedlings of the second row and continue to cut the leaves from the first row of plants. Keep the relay going, cutting small leaves when they're three or four weeks old, or, if you want larger leaves, cutting from four weeks onward.

Reseed Lettuce as Season Progresses

Reseed Lettuce as Season Progresses

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow!, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Harvest lettuce all year round

For a continuous supply through the summer, start a second planter. After a few croppings, replace the soil from the first planter so the relay can continue. It is important to keep your crops well watered, especially when the weather is dry, to prevent the plants from bolting (flowering and producing seeds).

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