Do you like fresh green salad? Are you a keen fan of healthy eating? Do you prefer clean, organic vegetables? If you answered all these questions with a resounding yes, then read on because today I am going to share with you how to grow leafy greens in containers!
You don’t need to have a big garden in order to grow lettuce or kale! Some containers, soil and seeds can bring you a long way!
Here is a list of delicious leafy greens you can easily grow in containers at home.
Lettuce is one of the most popular crispy green leafy veggies that is packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Although there are different varieties of lettuce, all of them boast a large number of health benefits. As a cool weather plant, lettuce will thrive in temperatures below 70F/21C, so choose a cool place that still gets plenty of sunshine.
Lettuce doesn’t have a big root system, which means that growing these leafy greens in containers is possible and fairly easy. Choose a pot that is about 6 inches deep. As for the width, the wider the container, the more plants you will be able to grow in it.
Fill the pot with high-quality potting soil and then drench it in water. Sow the seeds a few weeks before the last spring frost for early summer harvest or in late fall for early spring harvest.
If you intend to harvest only baby leaves, then just sprinkle the seeds over the moist soil. In case you want fully developed mature heads, then make several indents about ¼ inch deep every few inches and plant a pinch of seeds in each hole. Then cover the holes gently with soil.
After the seedlings appear, you can thin them by removing the smaller, not-so-healthy plants. After the lettuce is big enough you can start harvesting the leaves while the plant keeps growing. You can enjoy fresh green leaves until the center stalk starts to elongate. After that, it will begin to flower and the leaves will be bitter, so make sure you harvest the whole plant before it starts flowering.
Arugula comes next on our list of easy-to-grow leafy greens. Not only is it extremely flavorful, but rocket also grows so quickly that you’ll have fresh greens in your salad in a matter of days. Moreover, it is loaded with calcium, potassium, folate as well as vitamins.
Choose the variety you like best as well as a container with a reasonable size. It should be at least 16 inches wide and 6 inches deep because the arugula likes to be spaced. Fill the container with neutral-pH potting mix and sow the seeds ¼ inch deep.
Arugula is a cool weather crop, so you can sow it as early as January/February. Plant as many as 4 seeds in a container and cover them gently with soil. Water generously to encourage germination, which should happen in just a few days. After that water regularly and watch your leafy greens grow fast. They will be ready for harvesting 30-40 days after sowing.
You may have heard kale being called a superfood. Well, there is a good reason behind that. It is not only loaded with vitamins and other healthy nutrients but will also provide you with a fresh supply of greens all over the year. Moreover, it is one of the easiest leafy greens to grow in containers.
You will need a pot that is at least 12 inches deep. Start by filling it with rich well-draining potting soil. Sow a few seeds ¼ inches deep and 1-2 inches apart. Your kale will need 6-8 hours of sunlight a day as well as regular watering.
If you plan to pick baby kale leaves, then you can start harvesting as soon as 30-40 days after sowing. In about 50-60 days your plants will be fully mature.
Always pick the lower outer leaves first while letting the smaller inner leaves grow bigger. Make sure that there are at least five central leaves. That is to encourage growth so that you can come back and harvest more leafy greens every 1-2 weeks.
Spinach is super easy to grow and so versatile that you can use it in your fresh green salad, sautéed side dish, or energizing smoothie. It can also prevent anemia and boost your immunity.
Pick a container that is 8-10 inches wide and deep and make sure it has drainage holes. Depending on the climate zone and your preferences, choose a cold or heat-tolerant variety.
Fill the container with rich potting mix and plant 2-3 seeds in a ½ inch divot. If you plan to pick baby spinach leaves, then just sprinkle several seeds and cover them gently with a little soil.
For early spring harvest, plant the seeds in September/October, and for early summer fast crops do it in February/March. However, if you keep your containers indoors, you may plant your leafy greens at any time. Just keep in mind that spinach is a cool crop and it would be a good idea to skip the hottest months.
Water the plants regularly and as soon as they are strong enough, start harvesting the leaves. Always leave the smaller inner ones to encourage growth.
Growing leafy greens in containers means choosing carefully the plants that can develop well in confined spaces. Well, Swiss chard is one of them because it doesn’t have deep roots. This means that a 5-gallon container per plant is fairly enough.
Choose your preferred variety of Swiss chard and sow the seeds any time between March and July in a rich well-draining potting mix. Water and wait for the seeds to germinate which should take as long as a week.
Since chard seeds are actually small pods, you will likely see more than one seedling in each pot. You can thin them and leave only one or two healthy plants in each container.
Water regularly so that your leafy greens are never dry in the container. As soon as the plants grow to your preferred size, start harvesting by cutting the outer, bigger leaves while leaving the smaller inner ones to continue growing.
Purslane is also called pigweed or little hogweed and you may have seen it take over gardens or flowerbeds. Although it is actually a weed, this green vegetable is extremely nutritious.
All of the above make it a great choice for growing it in containers. You can start it from seeds or if you can find it in the wild, then you can plant it from cuttings as well.
Choose a container or a hanging basket that is at least 6-8 inches deep and 8-10 inches wide. Fill it with potting soil and sow a few seeds without covering them with soil because they need light to germinate.
If you plan to start it from cuttings, then lay the stems on the soil and water until they take root. After that water regularly, but avoid overwatering. Purslane will thrive in temperatures above 70F/21C and at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight.
If you grow it entirely indoors, then you will have fresh leafy greens all year round. The seedlings will be ready for harvest in about 6-8 weeks. Both leaves and stems are edible. You can consume them either raw in salads or cooked in a variety of healthy dishes.
Beet greens are basically the red-veined leaves that grow on beets. Not only are these leafy greens edible, but they also have some amazing health benefits. They are loaded with iron, potassium, and magnesium and can also strengthen the function of the nervous system. Moreover, they can easily be grown in pots so that after you harvest the greens you can also use the beets as well.
Pick a container that is at least 8 inches deep. As for the width; the wider the pot, the more plants you can grow in it. Firstly, fill it with a rich, well-draining potting mix and sow the beetroot seeds in early spring.
Once they germinate, leave only the healthiest plants, so that they are at least 3 inches apart. After the plants are strong enough and have a good number of leaves, you can start harvesting them.
Pick as many as 2-3 leaves from each plant, so that you can encourage further growth. Always pick the outer bigger leaves first while leaving the smaller inner ones to develop. In about 8 weeks on average, the leaves will turn yellow and stop growing. At this point, you can harvest the beetroot as well.
And last on our list of leafy greens to grow in containers come mustard greens. In case you haven’t heard of these before, they are close relatives to kale and cabbage but have a very pronounced peppery flavor. When raw they taste a lot like arugula. If you cook them, then you will find them milder and much more similar to spinach.
You can grow these leafy greens at home either from seeds or young plants, with the second option being suitable for the more impatient gardeners. Mustard greens have small roots but otherwise aren’t small plants at all.
So, choose a container that is at least 6 inches deep and 12 inches wide, which will be enough to accommodate one plant. As a cool weather crop mustard greens grow best in spring and fall and can even withstand light frost. However, if you live in a climate with harsh winters, then consider bringing the plants indoors during the coldest months.
Sow 3-4 seeds in a pot just in case not all of them germinate. Later thin them and leave only the biggest and strongest plant. Water regularly and provide ample sunlight. Start harvesting when you like the size of the leaves by picking the outer ones first and letting the inner leaves grow bigger.
More Gardening Tips and Ideas
Well, I hope you got some inspiration for your home garden! Leafy greens are extremely healthy and as it turns out not that hard to grow, even in containers, so try it out! For more gardening tips check these out: