Start a Vegetable Garden: Growing Herbs and Salad is a Simple Way to Start

Start a vegetable garden with fast and cheap herbs and salad

Start a vegetable garden and grow your own fruit and vegetables to get the simple pleasure of connecting you to the rhythm of the seasons and remind you of just how good fresh produce tastes. For many of us the best thing to start with is herbs and salad.  They are easy, fast and cheap, not to mention delicious. Check out also our page on best vegetables to grow in full sun.

It takes only four weeks to grow a salad from the start

At any time of year, you’re only four weeks from superior homegrown salad. I’m going to talk about growing some delicious herds and sellers that will take just minutes to get from your garden onto your plate. In general, all the avoided transport heating and lighting means that you should be cutting our emissions by growing your own, but if you follow these few simple tips, you can be sure that you’ve got a mean green veg patch.

Growing your food reduces carbon footprint

In general, growing your own food is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. But if you follow a few simple tips, you can make sure that your veggies are particularly eco-friendly. First, choose varieties that don’t need to be transported far to reach you. If you live in the US, for example, you can look for American-grown varieties. Second, grow greens that don’t need a lot of heating or lighting. Salad greens like lettuce, spinach, and arugula are all good options. Finally, don’t let your greens go to waste. Use them as soon as possible after harvesting to get the most out of their nutrients. With a little bit of planning, you can enjoy fresh, homegrown salad all year round.

Preparation tips before you start a vegetable garden

For a really low-carbon veggie patch, you want to minimize travel to garden centers. Use peat free compost, natural light, and avoid heating your space or greenhouse in any way. If you’re going really pro and you’ve got a bit more time, you also want to capture rainwater, make your own compost, and consider making your own fertilizer from nettles or seaweed. If you’re just starting out, I recommend getting some herbs and some salad plants. You might want to pick a garden planter box.

Use a self-watering container for success

You can upcycle just about anything into a pot to grow some salad or some herbs. But if you’re just starting out, I highly recommend using a self-watering container. The thing about these is that they’re really easy for people who are busy because they have a vessel of water down below. I always use them as gifts for friends who I know are really garden inclined, and they’ve been really successful for me.

Protecting peatlands by using peat-free compost

The next thing you’ll need is just some simple peat-free compost. You can buy a pre-made herb garden at any garden center for around 10 dollars. If you want to start from seed, get a cheap packet of different herbs or some tiny pots. Perennial herbs are easy to care for, just needing a small indentation in the soil, teasing of the roots if they’re root bound, and then planting them around. Push the soil firmly down around them.

Add lots of water in the beginning to start a vegetable garden

In just five minutes, you can have your own herb garden that looks nice and pretty. Just give it a good old soak the first time you water it, to make sure everything beds in ok. I like self watering pots because you can water underneath really easily, without wetting everything else. This can often give the plants water for even a week, unless it’s quite hot conditions.

Use drip irrigation to save on water

To avoid unnecessary use of water, consider using a drip irrigation system which uses buried pipes or tubes in the soil that releases water slowly which is much more efficient. It uses less water because less of it is at the surface where it evaporates away, and releases the water in a way that reduces drainage away that potentially sees less plant uptake.

Grow lavender, peppermint, lovage, mint, chives, thyme, rosemary

There you go—that’s five minutes’ work. But I’ve got myself a little herb garden. There’s lavender, some peppermint, lovage, some mint, chives, a little bit of thyme, some rosemary, and like a chocolate mint that you can use in tea. The second thing that everyone should be growing is salad. Lettuce is really easy to grow and it’s just delicious because it comes straight from the plant. And it’s better than stuff that’s been sitting in fridges in supermarkets. Grow your salad in a container. It can help protect against slugs, but you might want to show a little bit more ambition in the soil. It’ll probably sit outside, and not bother me, because it needs the airflow and cooler temperatures.

Wait four to eight weeks

I’m using a plastic grocery delivery crate that I found. I’ve got a couple of these and they just brilliant. I kept the family and salad with about four of them last year. I tend to grow a pretty generic leaf salad mix or an Italian salad mix just because I like the taste and it comes up pretty quickly so hopefully you can be eating some leaves within four weeks and then within eight weeks you’ll be in kind of full production mode. Salad seed is really fine which means it can be quite close to the surface otherwise it kind of gets lost. That’s a pretty general rule. The bigger the seed the deeper you sow it.

Tips for seeding: seed finely and evenly

To sow salad seeds, you want to have a light and even coverage, with no clumps. You can thin the seedlings later if necessary. Put a light layer of compost on top of the seeds to help with germination. You don’t need to put drills in, as salad seeds don’t need as deep a planting as some other vegetables.

The most important things your herbs need to germinate are moisture and a decent temperature. If you let them get too dry, they will run to seed and get very bitter, making them inedible. That’s it! A bit of information to start a vegetable garden.

Teach others how to do it

If you’ve got kids in school, then it’d be wonderful to take all your learnings and volunteer to start up a school garden farm. The activity can be for after school or it could be a parent volunteer event that gives kids the chance to do hands-on work outside the classroom. Teaching others what you know is a way to magnify your impact far beyond what you can do individually.

Lindsay Wilson
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I founded Shrink That Footprint in November 2012, after a long period of research. For many years I have calculated, studied and worked with carbon footprints, and Shrink That Footprint is that interest come to life.

I have an Economics degree from UCL, have previously worked as an energy efficiency analyst at BNEF and continue to work as a strategy consultant at Maneas.  I have consulted to numerous clients in energy and finance, as well as the World Economic Forum.

When I’m not crunching carbon footprints you’ll often find me helping my two year old son tend to the tomatoes, salad and peppers growing in our upcycled greenhouse.