Recently I wrote an article about the square foot gardening planner system and how it can be used to grow various vegetables and herbs. You can read more about that here.
As promised, I want to share with you some ideas on how you can use this system to create productive edible gardens using various “themes”.
In this article, I will show you how to create a summer salad garden in just one garden bed that measures 3 feet by 3 feet, therefore creating 9 equal squares.
*This website is reader-support so this post may contain affiliate links for which I earn commissions.*
Table of Contents
- What Plants Will We Be Growing?
- The Square Foot Gardening Planner For A Salad Garden
- How To Set Up Your Salad Garden
- How To Care For Your Salad Garden
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
What Plants Will We Be Growing?
To make our salad garden, we’re going to grow the following plants:
- 1 indeterminate or vine tomato
- 2 cucumber plants
- 1 Sweet pepper or capsicum
- 1 or 2 celery plants
- 4 varieties of loose-leaf lettuce
- 8 spinach plants
- 10 to 12 radishes
- 4 basil plants
- 1 or 2 parsley plants
This will grow enough ingredients to allow you to throw together delicious salads all summer long. However, if some of the ingredients above are not to your liking, you can always substitute them will something else. Just make sure you follow the guidelines as to how many seedlings to grow in each square and that what you want to substitute will grow over summer.
The Square Foot Gardening Planner For A Salad Garden
Here’s a diagram that shows you exactly where to plant each variety.
For this garden bed, you will have to install a trellis at the back to support both the cucumber plants and the indeterminate tomato. An indeterminate tomato is a vining plant and will need to be tied to the trellis as it grows. It will also need regular pruning to keep it confined to its square.
I’ve chosen loose-leaf lettuce rather than iceberg lettuce because, with these varieties, you can just cut the leaves that you need and leave the plant to continue growing. On the other hand, if you really prefer iceberg lettuce, you can really only grow 1 plant per square and this needs to be harvested in one go.
Spinach, parsley, basil, sweet peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers can all be harvested as you need them and the plants can be left to produce more throughout the growing season.
On the other hand, radishes will need to be pulled up when they’re ready. However, they are fairly fast growers and you can replace them with new plants as you pull them up.
Similarly, celery is usually harvested as a complete bunch, but here’s a little trick that you can try. If you just cut the celery near the base leaving a couple of inches of the plant in the ground, you may find that it will regrow more leaves from this. While this regrowth generally won’t give you thick stalks, you can still use the leaves in your salad.
How To Set Up Your Salad Garden
First, you want to create your garden bed using whatever you have on hand. Or, you could opt to purchase a raised garden bed of similar dimensions. Alternatively, if you only have a balcony or small courtyard area to garden in, just collect 9 pots that have a diameter of 12 inches (30 cm) and use these to create your salad garden.
If you’re going to use pots, you could also consider getting a tiered planter stand to raise some of the pots off the ground. This is an even better way to make use of a small space.
Alternatively, parsley, basil and loose-leaf lettuce plants can be grown in hanging pots to save even more space. Just hang these directly above the ground-based pots so that excess water can drip into the pots below.
Make sure you add plenty of compost to your garden bed or use top-quality potting mix if you’re growing in pots.
To give your garden a head start, use seedlings for most of the plants except for the radishes that can be planted from seeds.
How To Care For Your Salad Garden
Most of the plants won’t need too much maintenance except for the tomato and cucumber plants. For the cucumbers, you want to ensure that you train them up the trellis as they grow.
However, the tomato plant will require regular pruning right throughout its growing season. Here’s what you will need to do:
Pruning A Vining Tomato Correctly
A vining tomato plant has various parts that you need to identify:
- The leading stem needs to be trained to grow upwards and tied to the trellis as it grows.
- Leaves will grow along the length of this stem.
- At the junction where the leaves meet the stem, lateral branches will start to grow quickly.
It’s these lateral branches that you will need to prune off and you’ll need to be vigilant as these will grow quickly and continuously. If allowed to grow, they will take over your garden bed.
These laterals are easy to remove when they’re young by just pinching them off with your fingers. It’s important to check your plant regularly and remove these laterals as soon as you see them.
If one or two of these have escaped your scrutiny and you don’t want to remove them, just tie them to the trellis so that they’re growing upwards instead of sideways. But don’t keep more than one or two of the laterals if you can.
Once the leading stem has reached the top of your trellis, you can cut off the growing point and this will encourage the plant to start producing fruit.
Watering Your Salad Garden
It’s important that your plants receive adequate water during the growing season. During warm, dry spells, this means watering your plants on a daily basis. Try to only water at the base of the plants and avoid getting the leaves wet if you can.
Feeding Your Salad Garden
Most of the plants that you will be growing are heavy feeders. While the compost that you added before planting will keep them going for a little while, you’ll want to supplement this with a liquid feed every fortnight. Use a natural liquid fertilizer such as fortified liquid seaweed or fish emulsion.
All that’s left to do is to harvest your salad vegetables as you need them and enjoy.
Frequently Asked Questions
By utilizing the square foot gardening system to grow your salad garden, you’re maximising the amount of space you have available to grow a variety of different edible plants. This method also produces a good harvest, takes minimal maintenance and prevents weed growth.
The diagram and garden plan described relies on a garden bed that has 9 equal squares. This means it’s a 3-foot by 3-foot garden bed. However, you can use this to accommodate the space that you have available by eliminating some of the squares or even adding additional ones. If you have a long narrow space, you could even just have two rows with four squares each and grow the herbs together in one square.
As you have a variety of different plants closing close together, you’ll find that this won’t attract a lot of pests. You will still need to inspect your plants for possible pests but many of these are easily removed by hand or can be controlled using natural methods.
Growing your own salad garden can be both fun and rewarding. With this garden plan, you can ensure that you always have lovely fresh vegetables available to feed your family a range of delicious and wholesome salads.