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Clever and easy salad green growing eliminates weeding

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Spring is supposedly coming. Eager gardeners are itching to start seedlings, tend to plants and watch them grow, all while looking forward to the first homegrown salad. Here is a great idea for growing salad greens that requires minimal prep, no weeding, and will yield long lasting results throughout the growing season. The idea is from Kim Anderson Desmuke to North Texas Vegetable Gardeners.

This method has worked well for many years. It's a simple, weed-free way to grow lettuce, spinach and even radishes.

1.Take a 2 cubic feet bag of potting soil, rumple it around quite a bit to loosen the soil, poke quite a few holes in the back side for drainage, then lay the bag on a smooth surface that will allow drainage and not get too hot.

2. Cut out the top, leaving about a 4 or 5 inch border all around. Lightly rake through the soil to even it out and loosen it even more, then carefully and evenly sprinkle the seeds around.

3. Put the salad green seeds in an old spice bottle with large shaker holes, add some cornmeal, shake it all up to mix well and sprinkle them out of it. The cornmeal allows one to see that the soil is covered evenly. If planting radish seeds or spinach, make lines the depth mentioned on the seed pack, plant the seeds and cover appropriately.

4. For salad greens sprinkle a light covering of soil over the cornmeal and seeds and then spray-misted to water them in.

5. Put the bags on metal sawhorses and grates (or another sturdy holding system) to make them waist level. This kept the bags off the hot concrete and you don't have to bend over when cutting the salad greens.

6. When harvesting, just use a pair of scissors and cut what you need. Don't pull the plants out. The same goes for spinach; they will grow back almost magically overnight, and you can't tell where you cut.

7. Spray mist the seeds and plantlings at first when watering, until they are established. You can water more vigorously as the plants mature. You will probably need to water more often, since the depth of the bags is not as deep as a regular in-ground garden. Keep them moist, but not sopping wet, and adjust for sunlight strength and exposure, depending on climate. A shade cloth arrangement may be desirable.

8. The off the ground set up keeps green loving critters, like rabbits, unable to access tender seedling. The waist high setting eliminates bending and sore backs. Because the plants are off the ground, weed contamination is virtually eliminated.

9. Soil can be reused if balanced fertilizer is added again. Another use for the soil is bottom fill for window boxes, mixing with garden soil, planting beds, etc. With proper fertilization balance, the basic soil can be reused many times.

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