How to Sow and Plant Designer Leaves

Add a dash of style to your containers and dishes by growing a selection of gourmet leaf crops.

Chard has Striking Red  Stems and Veins

Chard has Striking Red Stems and Veins

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Chard’s boldly colored stems and leaf veins create a striking contrast with the light green leaves, making a decorative display in rustic or contemporary pots.

From: DK Books - Fruits and Vegetables

Step 1: Raise Chard

A must-have for every vegetable gardener, chard is a beautiful crop with a delicious earthy taste. It is also robust enough to withstand dry conditions and can even be harvested through mild winters. Seed can be sown into final pots, but raising seedlings in seed trays to plant out is often more successful. Sow seed 1/2-inch deep, in late spring for a summer crop and in late summer for winter and spring leaves. Thin or plant out seedlings four inches apart for baby leaves or up to one foot apart where impressive mature plants are desired. Choose a large pot, and place it in full sun or light shade for the best results. 

Aftercare and Harvesting 

Chard tolerates dry soil, but is happier when kept moist with regular watering. It crops over a long period if leaves are cut individually, allowing the youngest central leaves to continue to grow. Prevent cold weather from damaging crops by covering them with cloches, although frosted plants will regrow in spring. Chard’s boldly colored stems and leaf veins create a striking contrast with the light green leaves, making a decorative display in rustic or contemporary pots.

Step 2: Raise Arugula and Oriental Leaves

Arugula Mixes with Oriental Leaves in One Pot

Arugula Mixes with Oriental Leaves in One Pot

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Exotic combinations of arugula and oriental leaves can be sown in a single pot of multipurpose compost to create a variety of leaf color and texture for fresh salads.

Familiar from bags of grocery store salad greens, the flavors of arugula, mizuna and oriental mustard greens are fresher and feistier when plucked straight from the plant. Despite their high cost in the stores, these greens are easy and cheap to grow, and when given moist soil in sun or light shade baby leaves can be ready to crop in just three weeks. Scatter seed thinly over the compost, aiming for about 1/2-inch between seeds, cover with 1/4-inch of compost and water well. Sow a batch of seeds outside every two weeks from mid-spring, and indoors from fall until early spring for leaves all year round. 

Aftercare and Harvesting 

Keep compost moist, particularly during hot weather when plants run to seed quickly if they dry out. Pick leaves individually when they reach the desired size or cut the plants about one inch above soil level and leave them to regrow. Both methods provide harvests over several weeks.

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