Container Gardening with Salad Greens

By Ellen Ecker Ogden, March/April 2008

Easy tips to start your own salad greens container garden.

Greens love cool weather, so take advantage of the spring and fall seasons to grow them. Here are some tips to get you started on growing greens in a container garden:

  1. A nitrogen-rich soil feeds and supports leafy green plants. Till compost or aged bagged manure into your soil with a garden fork before sowing seeds—both are good sources of nitrogen.
  2. If you are planting a window box like the ones shown here, purchase organic potting soil and fertilize young seedlings with seaweed-based organic fertilizer (found at garden centers).
  3. Many greens will grow easily from seed; simply bury the seed 1/2 inch in the ground, tamp the soil and mark the area you planted with a stick or plant tag.
  4. Seeds should germinate in a week, and will be ready for the salad bowl in 25 to 45 days.
  5. For a jump-start on the season, purchase young plants at a garden nursery and transplant.
  6. Since lettuce and salad greens are 80 percent water, be sure to keep the roots and the soil moist yet not oversaturated.
  7. Dry soil adds stress to the plants, yet soil that is too wet will weaken the plants.
  8. Many greens are “cut and come again,” so harvest the greens, leave the roots and keep watering and they will sprout another set of greens.
  9. Harvest just above the soil line with scissors in order to keep the leaves clean and soil free. Shake off loose soil or grit.

Gardening & Seed Sources

Buy seeds at your local garden center, supermarket or hardware store. If you’re having trouble finding a specific variety check The Cook’s Garden,, or Johnny’s Selected Seeds, For gardening tools or containers like the one shown visit the Gardener’s Supply website,