Growing fresh, healthy salads is something that most kitchen gardeners aspire to do, but this can get challenging as the weather turns warmer.
Lettuce in particular can be challenging to grow (above 28-30 °C) because it tends to germinate poorly when the temperatures increase and bolt to form seed. The lettuce leaves also tend to become bitter prematurely, which makes them unappealing.
While certain lettuce varieties may allow you to enjoy a longer growing season because of their heat tolerance, it makes sense to look for other (equally enjoyable) options for your salad. Several other leafy greens are equally tasty, and nutritious while growing more productively in warmer conditions.
Set 1: Alternate Greens
Lettuce can be easily replaced in salads with extremely nutritious greens like Spinach, Swiss Chard, Beetroot Greens and Amaranth. All of which interestingly belong to the Amaranthaceae family and are quite productive as winter moves to spring and even summer.
Set 2: From the Mustard family
Mustard greens - This is a diverse family of sharp and mild tasting greens which also make for great salad ingredients. (Try Mustard Greens Giant Curled)
Chinese Cabbage and Pak Choy - Popular in Asian salads, these greens can be surprisingly productive and feature crunchy stems like a romaine lettuce. Should be harvested early for use in salads. (Try Chinese Cabbage Tokyo Bekana or Pak Choy White Stemmed)
Set 3: Herbs
Basil - An extremely popular and productive herb which can add its unique flavour to your salad. (Try Basil Genovese)
Set 4: Fruiting salad vegetables
Cherry tomatoes - These salad favourites are easier to grow than their larger cousins, especially in humid conditions where they are less susceptible to fungal diseases. (Try Cherry Tomato Large Red or Cherry Tomato Yellow Pear)
Cucumbers - These will add a crunch to your salad and will flourish as it gets warmer, growing well into the summer. (Try Cucumber Marketmore)
While these are probably the most popular salad vegetables, others like spring onions and radish (only spring) can also make for an interesting additions to your salads in the spring growing season. (Try Onion Palam Lohit)
For better results
Ideally try and grow at least 5-7 types of salad vegetables for greater diversity in your garden and on your plate. This helps create resilience against pests which may arrive with warmer weather. Selecting one or two varieties from each of the families described above (not all from one group) helps ensure you don't unintentionally undermine this diversity.
Looking for more salad growing options for hydroponic and aquaponic growing systems? We've got more.