How to Grow Your Own Sensational Salads

In the middle of a sweltering summer, you know what sounds amazing? A chilled bowl packed to the brim with crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes, refreshing cucumbers and crunchy celery.


No wonder the last week of July is designated National Salad Week. I can’t think of a more satisfying dish for this time of year.

Yes, eating salads is quite good. But growing them is even better.

Last month, I wrote about growing a Chef Tower Garden to kick off a series of posts inspired by a recent Tower Garden Facebook Poll. In this second installment, I’m going to show you how to grow a Salad-lover Tower Garden.

According to the poll description, Salad-lover Tower Gardens are “full of things like lettuces, greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, edible flowers and other crops commonly used in salads.”

Sound like your ideal garden? Let’s dive in!

It’s the little things in life, right?

20 Plants Salad Lovers Should Grow

To help you plan your Tower Garden, here are 20 plants to grow for delicious, raw salads:

  1. Amaranth – spinach substitute that grows remarkably well in warm, humid weather
  2. Arugula ­– popular mixed salad green with a pleasant, peppery kick
  3. Asian greens ­– tasty family that includes the bold mizuna, spinach-like tatsoi and others
  4. Beans – delicious (and healthy!) ingredient in hearty, filling salads
  5. Borage – produces edible, cucumber-flavored flowers
  6. Broccoli ­– a single serving has about twice as much vitamin C as an orange
  7. Cauliflower ­– pale cousin of broccoli with similar health benefits and taste
  8. Celery ­– rich with fiber, easy way to add more texture to a salad
  9. Chard – top superfood, often included in premade salad mixes
  10. Cress – recently ranked as the most nutrient dense food
  11. Cucumbers – iconic summer crop, increase the cool, crisp factor of any salad
  12. Kale ­– packed with iron, often shredded to make a simple salad
  13. Lettuces – with so many interesting varieties to choose from, you could easily grow a lettuce-only Tower Garden! (And some people do.)
  14. Mustard greens – like lettuce, a pretty big family that includes several delicious, spicy varieties
  15. Nasturtium – edible flower with a peppery, cress-like flavor, doubles as natural pest control
  16. Peas – sweet, snap varieties often added to salads
  17. Spinach – perhaps the most popular salad ingredient next to lettuce, very sensitive to heat
  18. Strawberries – delightful topping if you like sweet salads
  19. Sweet peppers – enliven salads with color and crunch
  20. Tomatoes – bursting with flavor, cherry tomatoes are a popular variety for salads

These are my top recommendations, but there’s really no wrong way to make a salad. What would your list of ideal salad plants look like? Leave a comment to let me know!

How to Arrange a Salad-lover Tower Garden

Want to eat fresh salads every day? You’ll need to reserve about 2–3 growing ports per family member for lettuces and greens.

Feel free to adapt the following plan as needed. For example, if you don’t like mustard greens but love lettuce, grow lettuce in two ports and leave out the mustards. As you tweak the plan, just try to keep the same big-to-small, pyramid-like arrangement. This will help keep your Tower Garden balanced.

How to Grow Your Own Sensational Salads

“Lettuce” Eat!

Lettuce and other greens grow quickly, and yours may be ready to harvest just weeks after planting. Salads are pretty simple to make, but you should check out the 5 Tower Gardener-vetted salad recipes in the Tower-to-Table Cookbook if you haven’t yet. (I’ve been meaning to try the Thai kale salad!)

And here’s a fun idea: take your greens on the go by packing a salad in a jar.

If you don’t eat harvests right away, place your lettuce and greens between paper towels in a sealed container and refrigerate them. When you’re ready to use them, follow these easy steps to make your produce fresh and crisp again:

Cut and Come Again Crops: Preparing Salad Leaves

OK, I’m off to make a salad!

Do you have a question? A must-try salad recipe? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below.

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