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Eat seedlings for National Salad Month

Leaves from thinned seedlings make a flavorful salad.
Leaves from thinned seedlings make a flavorful salad.
Jenny Dillman Wilson

May is National Salad Month. Celebrate with an early spring salad from an unexpected source: thinned seedlings. If you planted cool weather vegetables in early spring, you will need to start thinning in early May. It is important to thin out crowded or weak seedlings to allow the remaining plants enough room and nutrients to grow properly.

Thin your rows according to the directions on the seed packet, but don’t discard the tiny plants you pull. They’re food too! Little bitty, tender, tasty food.

When thinning your lettuce, spinach, and kale, trim the root from the bottom, and toss the leaves in your basket. The leaves may be small, but they add up quickly and it doesn’t take long to gather enough for a salad.

The young leaves and roots of radishes, beets and turnips can be added to salads for a bit of a bite. Be sure to eat only radish leaves that are still very young and are not yet rough.

Leaves of young pea plants add a fresh spring flavor to early salads.

Young mustard leaves are nutty in flavor, and arugula leaves are a bit spicy.

Young seedlings add lots of color, flavor and nutrients to your salad plate, and can be eaten alone with a light vinaigrette dressing, or added to a hearty lettuce salad for extra flavor.

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