Grow Your Own Salad Vegetables

Turn your garden into a mini allotment when you start to grow your own salad vegetables. Here’s the lowdown on what to grow and when.


Tomato plants growing in the garden.


Plant two tomato seeds into a small garden pot around 2-3 weeks after the last frost of the year. It’s important to pot two seeds just in case one doesn’t germinate. After the stalk starts to come through the soil transfer the contents of this pot to a standard size garden bucket. Fill the bucket with compost. It’s important that you also insert a vertical bamboo cane next to the stalk and loosely tie this to the cane using string or garden twine. This will help the plant to stay upright when it grows taller. Additional pieces of string should be tied around the plant and cane at regular intervals to keep the plant stable. Remove the sideshoots from the plant when they’re around an inch long to prevent overgrowth. You will need to water your tomato plant at regular intervals. Aim to do this once in the morning and once in the evening using roughly 2.5 litres of water. You should feed your tomato plant or plants once a week with tomato feed to help to promote plump, ripe tomatoes. As your tomatoes ripen, pick them off the plant and enjoy! They should easily come off in your hand. If they don’t, you’ll need to leave them for a few more days. Harvest from July onwards.


An image of a cucumber plant.


Plant your outdoor cucumbers at the beginning of June either into a garden bucket or directly into your garden (under cloches) using garden compost. Secure the growing cucumber plant to a small bamboo cane using loosely tied garden twine or string. Pinch out the tips of sideshoots which don’t flower after the first seven leaves in order to ensure that the cucumber plant puts its energy into the right parts of the plant. When you water your plant or plants, don’t water over the top of the plants but instead water around them. Cucumber plants don’t tend to need watering as often as tomato plants. If the surface of the soil is still damp/wet then leave the watering until later. Remove the cucumbers from the plant using scissors or a knife when they are between 6 and 8 inches long. Harvest your cucumbers from July onwards. To guard against whitefly, spray your plants every 10-14 days with organic fertiliser. Feed your plant or plants once every week to maintain a healthy level of growth.


Lettuces growing in the garden.


Lettuces can be planted between February and August and harvested from June to October. A small packet of seeds (purchased from a garden centre) can last you for years to come. Begin by planting your seeds in seed trays which are then placed on a windowsill and watered whenever the soil is dry. When leaves begin to shoot transfer these to an oblong trough with compost and move outside. An oblong planter gives the lettuces more room to spread out. Water your lettuces early in the morning but only when the soil is dry. Aim to plant around six lettuces in an eighteen inch long trough. Be aware that young plants are particularly susceptible to slug and snail attacks. Use slug pellets or more organic methods such as eggshell or sawdust barriers to deter garden pests. When a firm heart has been formed you know that your lettuce is ready to pick. Do this by cutting it off rather than pulling it out. Wash thoroughly before transferring it to your fridge salad drawer.


Enjoy your salad vegetables!


By Action 21 volunteer Amy Shepherd