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SaladThere is nothing that compares to the fresh, crunchy, taste and texture of home-grown salad greens and this is the perfect time to make a start on growing your own.

Salad greens do not simply mean lettuce: they include a wide and varied range of plants grown purely for their edible leaves and you don’t even need a garden to do this. You can grow salad greens indoors or outdoors – which is great news for apartment dwellers.

All that is needed is a place such as a sunny windowsill or a balcony which receives at least six hours of direct, natural light, a reasonable sized container – an old washing basin with drainage holes punched in the base is ideal – good quality, organic compost and an assortment of seeds.

Lettuce is everyone’s idea of a basic salad green but other suitable species include: celery, chicory, coriander, cress, endive, kale, leaf beet, mibuna, mizuna, mustard, orach, radicchio, rocket, spinach and watercress, to name a few.

The ideal way of growing delectable salads is to mix a few of the above named seed varieties and then sow them, taking care not to overcrowd them. If you intend to cultivate individual plants, sow them closer just under the surface of the compost. Water lightly each day and germination will be rapid.

Once the seedlings (some grow faster than others) are three to four inches tall, you can begin harvesting them, cutting the largest leaves just above their base and leaving the rest to grow. Even the cut stems will, in most cases, keep on growing for weeks on end.

Growing a mix of salad leaves in this way – especially if you can find space for three to four growing containers and sow seeds in each one at weekly intervals – is an ideal method of ensuring fresh, healthy, salad ingredients over an extended period of time.

– B Khan
First published in The Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on December 15, 2013.