Each spring, I grow salad from seed. Nothing could be easier–all you need is some seed and some sun.
This year, because the spring weather was quite cold, I began on March 31. I used seeds of Provencal Mix and Cook’s Zesty Blend, plus arugula and mache, from The Cook’s Garden. I sowed the seeds directly onto the ground in a sunny spot (each 2-gram packet comfortably covers about 4 to 6 square feet).
Caring for the plants could not be simpler. Keep the ground damp until the seeds germinate. Water if there’s no rain. Start picking when the plants get crowded, or when the individual leaves are the size of the leaves in the very expensive mesclun mix you buy at the gourmet store. Pick enough for that day, wash well, dress with good wine vinegar and olive oil, and enjoy.
Last year the spring weather was much hotter, and I sowed the seeds much earlier. But in both years, I harvested the first salad around the middle of May. And here is a picture of that delicious salad, still in the colandar after being washed:
I expect to keep harvesting these greens until the weather gets hot. Then the plants will bolt, or begin to form flower stalks and seedheads. At that point, the leaves will taste bitter, so we will pull up the plants, compost them, spread some compost on the ground, and plant warm weather crops such as eggplants and tomatoes in the same spot (remember that my whole vegetable garden is about 6 x 16 feet).
Delicious greens like these need the simplest possible dressing. If you’ve never made vinaigrette from scratch, you can’t believe how easy it is: for a salad for two people, put 1 1/2 tsps. of good-quality wine vinegar in a little bowl. Add salt and pepper. Add about three times as much fruity olive oil as vinegar and beat with a fork or small whisk. Taste the dressing–you might want more salt or more olive oil. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well.
Enjoy the first greens of spring!