Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Spring Flavor: Salad Garden Brings Good Eating, Beauty

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Spring Flavor: Salad Garden Brings Good Eating, Beauty

Article excerpt

Surely the least difficult of food gardens is the salad garden.

Consisting almost entirely of annual leafy greens, including a selection of herbs, the salad garden starts up quickly in the spring, languishes somewhat in the heat of the summer and revives in the fall for a spectacular finish to the garden season. It is almost entirely sown from seed, incorporates varieties that are foolproof sprouters, requires minimal maintenance and produces a substantial amount of good eating in a compact space.

If planned well, it is a place of unpretentious beauty. The salad garden is, in all, an ideal project for the beginning gardener, an imaginative solution for the small plot and a source of continuing delight to the gourmet.

To this end, the salad garden discussed here consists primarily of "soft" salads: greens, herbs, flowers. These, after all, form the base of a fresh green salad; the rest is optional.

Selection of varieties should be based on one's palate as well as how easy they are to grow. Most home-grown salad greens eaten soon after harvesting are sweeter and more flavorful than supermarket produce.

Among the easiest and most rewarding in terms of yield and flavor are:

Leaf lettuces - These are lettuces that do not form a tight head like icebergs. Seeds germinate readily, and heads need to be 6 to 12 inches apart to form the large globes typically seen in a supermarket. Thus, seedlings should be thinned to that spacing as they grow; these very young plants are a delicate and flavorful addition to a salad of mixed greens. There are dozens of varieties of leafy salads. A few of the best-known and utterly fool-proof are Black-Seeded Simpson (mid-sized, green), Grand Rapids (large, green), Red Oak Leaf (large, red) and Green Oak Leaf (large, green), Red Lollo (mid-sized) and Burpee's Gourmet Blend (mid-sized, mixed colors). …

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