adapted from an article by Kelly Roberson
A salad garden in your backyard will provide you with food that is easy to grow in your keyhole garden bed. The work is minimal in this productive raised bed. A lot of vegetables can grow there in a small, easily reached space. Just gather what you need, wash it, chop it, and toss it into a tasty salad.
There are two ways of grouping plants in a salad garden. You can group the individual plants together (all the lettuces, for example) or you can plant taller items at the center of the garden, with lower-growing salad fixings at the front.
When planting the salad garden, follow directions on the seed package. But remember that in a keyhole garden, plants can be closer together than in the traditional in-ground garden. You have an intimate relationship with the garden, checking it daily, taking care of any problems when they come up.
Watering is done through the compost container in the center of the garden. Spritz the seeded soil to keep it wet until sprouts appear. Water the tender baby roots by hand, not wetting the new leaves. You’ll need to water well until the plants are established – then sit back, watch your salad garden grow, and eat the tasty results of your labor.
Leaf lettuce makes for the best fresh salad. You can snip off just the amount you need for one meal and let the plants grow. Try Black-Seeded Simpson, Lolla Rossa, Green Ice, Buttercrunch and Mighty Red Oak.
Plant Popeye's favorite vegetable, spinach, for its taste and super nutrition. Sow in the spring, then plant again in late summer.
Because arugula is a cool weather plant, only the first young leaves of spring are salad-worthy. After the plant matures, cook it or make pesto with it. Fall plantings hold the tenderness for salad until frost.
Kale is a member of the cabbage family and is very easy to grow. It is tolerant of cold weather.Use the tender young leaves for spring salads, then cook the mature leaves in early summer. Gathering the older leaves once a week will allow new salad leaves to constantly emerge. If you live where the summers are hot, pull up the old plants and plant again in the fall.
Parsley leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals. Decide how much of this herb you actually want. Maybe one or 2 plants would be enough, but sow generously as seeds are slow starters. If more than you want comes up, transfer to a butterfly garden for the parsley worms to eat. These catepillars will turn into beautiful swallow-tail butterflies.
Chive is another herb that you will want in your salad garden. The upright, hollow leaves have a mild onion flavor. The pink flowers are edible and make a pretty garnish, Chive is a perennial, so if you don't want it as a permanent presence in you keyhole garden, move in somewhere else in the fall.
There are many varieties of radishes in shades of red, white, and purple. Flavors may be mild, spicy or definitely peppery. I plant the round ones and white icicle, both heirloom varieties.
I plant onions to be used in salads as scallions or little green onions. Unless you want large cooking onions, pull them young, up to 60 days after planting. Leave them to 120 days for big onions.
Carrots, like radishes, comes in many different colors. Be patient after sowing seeds. It takes 10 days or more for the seeds to sprout. Keep the bed moist. Plant every 2 weeks if you want a continual supply. When planting in the summer, shade the bed and keep it moist. If you have a lush keyhole garden planted, the other plants may provide all the shade you need. I pull the carrots young, as baby carrots, for my salads.
Cherry tomatoes are colorful, healthy additions to a salad. Good luck getting these beauties inside before someone (ahem!) eats them right off the vine.
Colorful, edible nasturtiums tolerate poor soils and heat or cold. Grow them for their beauty and as a garnish for your salad. A little eye candy!