Edible Displays: Mixed Salads
Quick and easy, these colorful salad leaves, herbs and edible flowers will be ready to pick just six weeks after sowing.
2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited
Purple and pale green lettuces, sown in bands across the metal tub, rapidly fill out to form a mass of scalloped foliage, while the basket, edged with frilly ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ lettuce and mustard, is set off with a spray of edible marigolds. Variegated lemon thyme adds both color and fragrance to the third pot, where feathery Cosmos will supply daisy-like flowers later in summer. Pick individual leaves from across the display, and these pots will keep cropping for weeks.
Step 1: Choose Containers
Select rustic containers about 8 inches-by-18 inches in size that suit a patio or gravel garden. Use multipurpose compost, and ensure the plants receive full sun or partial shade.
Step 2: Go Shopping
Buy the following plants: one packet lettuce ‘Dazzle’ seeds, one packet lettuce ‘Green Frills’ seeds, one packet lettuce ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ seeds, two pot marigolds (Calendula), one packet mustard ‘Red Giant’ seeds, one lemon thyme and three Cosmos (optional).
'Dazzle' is a small Romaine lettuce with glossy, burgundy leaves. The color shows up well through the outer leaves and contrasts with the delicious, pale green heart centers when sliced. It matures in 70 days.
'Green Frills' lettuce forms a frilly, green lettuce head. It is a softer, loose leaf lettuce with a mild and sweet flavor. It is one of the most popular fancy leaf lettuces available.
'Black-Seeded Simpson' lettuce quickly produces a large head of juicy, crinkled leaves that are sweet and tender. Maturing in just 28 days, the variety has been popular in gardens for over 100 years.
The calendula, or pot marigold, is an annual flower native to the northern Mediterranean countries. Its name refers to its tendency to bloom with the calendar, usually once a month or every new moon. The petals can be added to salads.
Red Giant mustard greens color up a salad and add tasty zest, as well. Leaves are tender, and maroon in color with light green midribs and narrow stems. It is winter hardy and slow to bolt. Full size leaf harvest in 45 days.
Step 3: Plant Flowers and Vegetables
Line the basket with durable plastic and make sure all pots have drainage holes. From mid-spring, fill them to about two inches below the rim with compost and plant the thyme and marigolds in their chosen positions (plant Cosmos after the frosts). Level the compost surface and thinly sow ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ and mustard seed. Mark out diagonal bands in the metal tub and thinly sow the two lettuce cultivars so that they do not mix. Cover seeds lightly with sieved compost and water. Keep well watered to prevent the salad plants rapidly running to seed.