Salad on the Railing

by Lynn
(Minneapolis)

One of the most delicious and fresh tasting additions you can make to a meal might be a crunchy salad of baby greens. It is also one of the easier things to grow and harvest, especially if you keep the greens near the kitchen door—on your deck or porch railing!

Many kinds of railing planters now exist; some sit over the top like a saddle, while others fit into racks that hang off the edge. These planters look fabulous when planted with a colorful mix of salad lettuces and greens. The variety of lettuce and greens colors and shapes are striking, but the real beauty of these miniature kitchen gardens is you can stroll out your back door, and with a few snips of a scissors, the makings for a gourmet salad are in the bowl!

Because lettuce and other salad greens are at their best when small, well watered and easy to reach, gardening right on the deck or porch is perfect for these vegetables. You will find you remember to keep the growing salad hydrated as you see it every time you walk out the door. You can snip a bit here and there, and wait for the plants to send up new shoots—the popular cut and come again approach.

As the plants are at waist height and out of the bigger traditional garden, they are cleaner and easier to check for weeds and pests. If you sow the containers thickly, which works fine, weeds are probably not even an issue. Another fun and tasty addition might be to include some herbs that are good in salads, such as fern-leaf dill, parsley or basil.

Finally, as the plants began to wilt or bolt after a series of cuttings, you can remove the whole plant or plants and re-sow for more harvest. In fact, you can rotate a number of containers in and out at different stages—just sown, sprouting, mature for the eating and time for replanting—to make sure you have greens at the ready at all times.

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