Friday, April 20, 2012

How to Create a Summer Salad Container Garden

Greetings wellness lovers!

Today I have invited guest blogger, Rachael of, to share with you how to create a summer salad container garden for fresh, local, and organic eating all summer long! And, right outside your kitchen!

How to Create a Summer Salad Container Garden
by Rachael of

"When I think of summer, I think of fresh produce and leisurely walks around my farmer's market. I love heading out to my local farmer's market to select the brightest salad greens and juiciest tomatoes for my summer salads. But what's better than going to the market to get some of the freshest ingredients? Going out my door to my patio to find just what I need! I recently planted my own container garden so that I have just a few less things to pick up at the market each week, and a little more to be excited about all summer long! You can grow a garden full of flowers that are pretty to look at, but even better, you can grow a garden full of fresh vegetables that you can eat! In even the smallest of spaces (I'm using two 12-inch diameter pots!), you can make a container garden grow. Here's a step-by-step guide on how you can set up your own summer salad container garden that's perfect for any small space:

1. Determine what and how much you'd like to grow.

Think up the ingredients you know you love to eat over and over. Choose from ingredients like these or brainstorm some others that you'd like to plant for your summer salad container garden:
  • Lettuces: various types, like romaine, butter crunch, green or red leaf
  • Tomatoes: various types, like Roma, cherry, or hot house
  • Bell peppers: various colors, each offering different nutrients
  • Jalapenos: for some heat!
  • Scallions (also called green onions)
  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Herbs: various types, like basil, thyme, mint, or parsley
You'll want to plant more of the ingredients that you know you'll be harvesting more often, so there is always time for them to re-grow. Decide how many and which ingredients you'd like to plant.

2. Strategize how much space you'll need and how the plants will be configured.

When you're working in a small space, planting strategically is important. You don't want to take up more room than you have to, and you want to be sure you're giving each vegetable enough room to grow and thrive in its container. A few ways to do this are:
  • Vary the height in the containers. When using a circular planter, plant those that will grow the tallest in the center and scale down in size from there. When planting in a box or rectangle planter, plant the tallest plants near the back of the container and scale down in plant size from back to front. This will create visual interest and ensure that the smaller plants still have a chance to get some sunlight.
  • Don't crowd too many plants in too tightly into a container. When you select your vegetable plants, the packaging will indicate how far apart they should be planted, so use that as a guide before getting into the dirt.
  • Plant according to sunlight requirements. If a few of your plants need sunlight for 6 hours a day, and others need less, plant according to how much sun they need, so none get over-sunned and none are under-sunned. You can keep one container in the sunnier spots and the other away or tucked under shade, if necessary.

3. Head out to the store to select your plants, containers, and soil.

I like to choose plants that have already been “started,” which means someone else has made sure the seeds aren't duds and that as long as I take care of them, they'll do pretty well. I like doing it this way, because I personally don't always have a green thumb for planting, but if you have ultimate confidence in your gardening - don't be afraid to start with seeds! When I do choose plant starters, I like to get organic ones that haven't been “helped along” with any chemicals. Be sure to check the plant before you purchase it, choose only plants that look fresh, have firm leaves, and don't look too wilted or damaged. You can nurse some plants back to health, but others may have been through a little too much to bring home. Use your best judgment. Choose containers that are large enough to hold all the plants you wish to grow and allow for adequate space between them. Remember to read the tags on the plants or seed packets to know how much space they need and what to expect in terms of height and spread. Also look for pots that will supply your vegetables with proper drainage. You can find planters with holes in the bottom or with a separate tray underneath to catch any extra water runoff. Select a soil that is organic, has no chemical additives, and will help your plants grow naturally! There are so many soils out there that will “guarantee” that your plants will grow to be big and huge, but you want them to grow naturally, not mammoth sized and flavorless! Remember whatever that plant is grown in will be part of what you put in your body.

4. Pot your plants, give them a good water, and nurture nurture nurture!

Once you have everything home - it's time to get your hands dirty! Fill about ⅔ of your pot with soil, then place your plants out where you plan to pot them. This will give you a nice visualization as to what it will look like once it's completed, and allow you to make any last minute changes, if necessary. Remove the plants from their containers, give the roots a bit of a massage, and place them in the soil. Surround the plants with more soil until the tops of the roots are covered completely. Water your completed summer salad container garden and remember to keep up the watering, as indicated on the tags that came with the plants! Putting together a summer salad container garden can be a simple weekend project that results in delicious and fresh salads almost every night of the week! What can be more fulfilling than growing and eating your own garden vegetables? Happy growing (and eating)!"

Rachael is the blogger behind and is the author of How to Cook For Yourself and Kick Start Your Kitchen. She writes about her passion for food, eating well while saving money, and inspires people to get familiar with their kitchens and cook for themselves.

On a side note...
Today is the last day to enroll at Integrative Nutrition* with a $500 pay-in-full scholarship + an iPad 3! If you are interested in this opportunity, or just want to learn more about what IIN offers, I am happy to share my experience and insight! My e-mail is (Rachael is a student at IIN as well!) 

If you are seriously considering starting a career in holistic health, and want to get a better idea as to what IIN is all about, you can get a complimentary version of Joshua Rosenthal's book "Integrative Nutrition: Feed Your Hunger for Health and Happiness" here!
It's rated 5/5 stars on Amazon!

Have a great day! And an excellent spring weekend!

*Integrative Nutrition® and Institute for Integrative Nutrition® are registered trademarks of Integrative Nutrition Inc.

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