Salad vegetables continue to increase their visibility on the average American dinner plate.
As the top chart points out, over the course of the past forty years, per capita consumption of common garden vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, celery, cucumbers and tomatoes continues on a slow and steady upward slope.
Carrot consumption might be the only vegetable listed that somewhat strays from the slow and steady upward sloping scenario. Sometime during the 1990s, American preferences for consuming fresh carrots suddenly peaked. It soon returned to pre-1990 fresh carrot preference levels.
Taken together, the vegetables in the chart remind us of things we already know. Tomatoes and onions, along with the not listed lettuce, rank among American's favorite salad vegetables, suited for both sandwich dressings and stand alone salads.
Over time, additional fresh vegetables such as celery, carrots, broccoli and cucumbers formed clusters that look to be loosely translated into the average American's preferred finger food and side dish combinations.
|Growing Salad Vegetables
Growing String Beans
Salad popularity additionally provides incentives for many back yard gardeners to think back yard salad vegetable garden.
Experienced gardeners often approach the task with a casualness gained over time. Beginning gardeners also need not worry.
Garden fun lives in both the process and the end product, the vegetables. Year after year master and novice gardeners learn about new vegetable varieties and try to determine how well any potential new variety might fit into their specific garden environment.
Year after year changes in weather patterns and soil conditions challenge master and novice gardeners to improve on their plant care practices throughout the plant's vegetative, flowering and fruiting phases. Extreme changes in a soil's moisture and nutrient content, for example, provides a foundation for either encouraging or discouraging the development of small soil insects and mite populations such as springtails and mites.
A small patch of land, approximately six square feet in size to accommodate three rows of vegetables, a modest knowledge of the garden's soil type, and a willingness to invest a small amount of time on a daily basis serve as the basic gardener's tools.
Some vegetables, such as the peas in the picture, grow vertically and provide great edging for a basic six square foot garden.
Garden preparation, which consists of clearing the soil of weeds and rocks, and insuring it can provide balanced nutrients to the vegetables, starts the process.
Generally speaking, soils are divided into three types, clay, loam and sandy, depending on their organic content and their water draining capacity. Nutrient rich, loamy soil is perfect for a salad vegetable garden.
Additionally, all gardeners need to be aware of the soil pH level, a measure of the soil's acidity or alkalinity. Inexpensive and easy to use kits that measure soil pH levels are available at most garden stores.
Because most of the common salad vegetables are considered companion plants, or plants that grow well together due to similar soil, nutrient and watering needs, preparing the soil properly prevents many potential plant growth problems throughout the course of the growing season.
Starting a garden with weed free, properly draining soil, with a pH level in the 6.5 range (slightly alkaline) translates into ideal soil conditions for most of the garden vegetables listed in the box on the right.
Celery might be the most difficult to grow vegetable on the list, but like tomatoes, well worth the grow attempt. Specialists often recommend celery, along with other plants in the carrot family, as companion plants for many brassica plants such as broccoli and cauliflower because of celery's ability to attract beneficial insects during its growing season.
The links in the box point to articles that provide further background information covering and even ten (plus) common garden vegetables, along with a few tips and suggestions regarding their nutrition and environmental challenges during the growing season.
Organic Tip: The phrase organic fertilizer can be used loosely in the marketing of any product. Organizations such as the Organic Materials Review Institute regularly publish lists of certified organic fertilizers. The list provides multiple brands, with nutrient ratios suited for all of the vegetables listed in the box.
Double checking OMRI standards with state and local standards provides additional ways to investigate the consistencies and inconsistencies associated with modern organic gardening and marketing practices.
© 2009-2012. Patricia A. Michaels