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How to Grow a Container Salad Garden in La Jolla, CA

Aside from the gorgeous scenery, cliff walks, galleries, and restaurants, residents of La Jolla have one of the most beautiful climates in the United States. Right across the bay from Coronado, it’s nestled in USDA Zone 11a, which is temperate and quite dry all year round. As long as you have a garden hose, a few pots, a sunny patio or balcony, and the will to grow your own food, you can have a salad bowl garden in time for the holidays!

Benefits of Salad Bowl Gardens

Forget the wilted herbs and lettuces at the supermarket. Forget the carrots and radishes, too. Once you’ve tasted an herb freshly snapped from the stem or a root vegetable pulled from a pot, you’ll never go back. Packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that haven’t dissipated from long storage, salad bowl gardens are both sustainable and satisfying. They’re not exposed to pesticides, plastics, or other harmful toxins either, so they’re safer for you and your family to eat.

La Jolla CA Container Garden
by Brian Patrick Flynn

What You’ll Need

You can get your salad bowl garden planted in a flash if you organize a short list of what you’ll need. First, consider the size of the sunny area you wish to plant in. Then, head to the garden center!

  • Containers (deep ones for root vegetables, shallow ones for herbs, trays for leafy greens)
  • Garden gloves and spade
  • Rich, moisture-controlled potting soil with slow-release fertilizer
  • Seeds
  • Scissors

How to Plant Your Salad Bowl Garden

Make sure your containers are clean. If they’re not, wash them with a 10 percent solution of bleach and water, rinsing thoroughly. Check to see that drainage holes in the bottom of the containers are open. If there aren’t any holes, make them with a sharp knife or a drill. Fill the containers with soil and moisten thoroughly.

Next, read the seed packet instructions carefully. Most herb seeds can be sprinkled on top of the soil, with just a sprinkling of soil to lightly cover them. Place containers in a sunny spot and keep them moist until they sprout!

Watch Your Garden Grow

Once the seeds have sprouted, they’ll likely be crowded in the containers. Thin them according to the packet instructions as soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle, usually when they’re about an inch or two tall. That way, you’ll get sturdier, more productive plants.

After that, it’s just a matter of time and steady watering before you can reap the benefits of your garden. You’ll be amazed at how fast radishes, carrots, and lettuces will grow. In La Jolla, herbs like thyme, rosemary, chives, parsley and oregano will keep you in a steady supply of fresh flavoring for your table all winter.

Simply snip herbs, pull radishes and carrots, and pick off leaves of lettuce as you need them. Herbs and lettuces will get bushier and more productive as you repeatedly cut them back. Replant carrots and radishes every six to ten weeks to maintain a steady supply.

Carrots and radishes will keep for several weeks if you store them in a cool, dry place. Herbs can be dried and stored in plastic bags or ground and kept in glass jars.

Enjoy the Fruits of Your (Minimal) Labor

Once you get into the rhythm of container gardening, you’ll find yourself planting more and more containers. Try anything you’ve always wanted to taste, fresh from your own garden. It’s a great pastime for sunny days, and a great way to introduce young kids to gardening, fresh food, and good nutritional habits while giving them a sense of accomplishment!

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