Whenever I’m making a salad, whether it’s a salad to go on the side of a main course, or a meal in itself, I tend to think of it in layers. First comes the bed of the salad, or the greens. Next I add the other vegetables, followed by non-veggie components and topped off with dressing.
In this next installment of the summer gardening series about growing your own summer salad ingredients, we’ll look at root vegetables and I’ll recommend some interesting varieties for you to try your hand at growing yourself for chopping and adding to your own summer salads. Just follow the package directions for growing each of these vegetables, and if you need help getting your garden started, you might want to start out by reading How to Start Your Own Seedlings.
When I think of root vegetables, the first one that comes to mind is the carrot. I also include beets and radishes in this group.
Most of us buy carrots in a three pound plastic bag at the grocery store. These carrots can be close to tasteless. Admittedly, I haven’t had as much luck growing carrots as I’d like, but I’m going to give them another shot this summer in my own back yard vegetable garden, and I think you should, too.
This season I’m going to try growing Renee’s Garden’s Tricolor Carrots ‘Circus’, a packet that includes seeds for the traditional orange, as well as white and purple carrots! Those will look awesome in a salad, and I’m hopeful that my son will eat them.
Radishes are an early spring treat in our garden. There are long and slender versions of this peppery root vegetable, but I prefer the standard round variety. Seed radishes directly into the garden in spring and in a couple of weeks you’ll have radishes to add to your salads or serve with a creamy dip.
I recommend a variety called French Breakfast if you’re a radish lover.
Beets are undervalued in the garden, in my opinion. They are good for more than just pickling, although that is my favourite way of eating them. You can also steam and peel fresh beets or chop and roast them with some olive oil and other vegetables in the oven. When you buy beet seeds, each seed is actually a small cluster of seeds, which means that when they germinate, you will have to thin out the seedlings to about three or four inches apart.
The variety you see in the photo below is called Bull’s Blood, and I think you can tell why. This summer I’ll be growing Jewel-Toned beets again, also from Renee’s Garden. The young leaves of these plants make an excellent addition to any salad.
Next in our summer gardening series, I’ll be sharing information about growing your own peppers, onions and garlic, all of which are crucial ingredients for mixing your own salad dressing.
Do you grow root vegetables? What are your favorite varieties?