Windowsill Salad Greens for Winter Growing
The compact Salanova Green Multi-Leaf is a great cut-and-come-again lettuce for indoor growing.
Grower’s Gold Indoor Mix makes growing small lettuces and micro-greens inside a piece of cake, as long as you have enough sunlight and a little gardening know-how. Even better, greens are fast-growing crops, so windowsill salad crops provide quick gratification. Start with the right greens and master some of the cultural basics, and you’re home free.
Growing Windowsill Greens
Planter troughs or window boxes can be purchased in a variety of sizes and are best for growing window-side greens. The key is ensuring they have adequate drainage—a must for planter growing of any kind. Next, choose the right soil. Grower’s Gold Indoor Mix is a great choice. Just be sure to fill the pot to a depth that allows at least 2” of headspace at the top for watering and planting.
Planters should be placed in as sunny a location as possible. Supplemental light can be provided with the used of broad-spectrum grow lights, if need be, but natural light is best. When watering, provide just enough water to wet the soil—allowing the mix to dry slightly between watering. Once plants are actively growing, the need to water will increase. Just be sure to avoid wet soil, which can rot roots and encourage soil-borne pests and pathogens.
Salanova Red Incised Leaf grows well in pots and is pretty in salads.
Seeds can be directly sown on the soil’s surface or seedlings can be planted. The seeds of most greens require light to germinate, so surface-sow seed for best results. This simply means gently sowing the seeds along the soil’s surface and keeping them lightly moist. Once they have germinated, thin them so seedlings are around 2 to 3 inches apart. This is a little closer than outdoor-grown greens, but indoors denser plantings yield more greens.
Finally, be sure you choose the right crops for indoor growing. Here is a sampling of the types of salad greens you might consider:
Micro Lettuce Varieties
Mixed Salanova baby lettuces (55 days from seed) are a great, fast choice for indoor growers. They form dense, small heads that are sweet and crunchy. The mix offers a variety of purple and green-leaved selections. Baby Leaf Mix is another great choice. Rather than heads, this mix offers cut-and-come-again looseleaf lettuces that produce in just 28-35 days from seed.
‘Red Russian’ is a lovely kale that can by harvested young and grown indoors. (Photo care of Johnny’s Selected Seeds)
Looseleaf kales germinate fast, grow quickly and can be clipped back regularly for home salads. There are several varieties to choose from—‘Red Russian’ and ‘Toscano’ being two of the best. Both are mild-tasting and produce edible leaves in just a few short weeks.
Just about any chard can be grown inside. All are tender and can be harvested young. Most growers opt for colorful varieties for increased antioxidants and pretty salads. Bright Lights Mix and ‘Ruby Red’ are two pretty chards that always taste great when young.
One of the fastest greens for growing is mizuna. Popular in Japanese cooking, its tasty leaves have a mild, spicy flavor and look feathery and pretty in salads. Purple mizuna is a popular choice that will begin to produce cut-and-come-again leaves in just 21 days.
The easy-to-grow micro mustard green ‘Green Wave’ is so easy and delicious you will wonder why you didn’t start growing your own greens sooner. It will produce harvestable microgreens just two weeks after germination. If you allow plants to grow a little longer, you can keep trimming them back for a longer harvest of spicy salad leaves.
These are just a few of many salad greens for indoor growing. Gardeners new to the craft may want to try one or two simple greens, like lettuce and kale, before experimenting with other types. But, once you have found success with growing them indoors, you will be hooked.
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