Mini salad box

Teach the kids some garden basics and get started yourself this spring with this fun and easy to grow salad box from Clare Matthews.

decorating salad box
Decorating a salad box. Image: ©CliveNichols.com
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Start growing a few edibles and get the kids outside with this easy and fun spring planting mission that achieves so much.

  • It is a craft project encouraging creativity and providing a good couple of hours entertainment.
  • It lures children outside and teaches them what plants need to grow first hand.
  • It encourages basic nurturing skills and responsibility as they care for the plants that they grow.
  • It delivers a sense of achievement as they pick and harvest their first crops.
  • And perhaps most importantly it might just inspire the next generation of gardeners!
  • Despite all this wonderful stuff it is also little trouble for adults to get the materials together and it costs very little too.
planting salad box
Plant any herbs you like in your salad box. Image: ©CliveNichols.com

It is often said but it really is true that there is nothing quite like the satisfaction of eating food you have grown yourself. For young children the progress of seed or seedling to dinner plate is almost magical and a triumph which will be remembered. Even the fussiest of eaters will want to at least sample what they have grown. Ask most adults and they will recollect a few radishes or lettuces they nurtured in some corner of the garden as a child.

The main thing is that the child’s first experience of growing things should be a success, this pretty little box put in a good spot is more likely to yield an edible crop than some out of the way, weedy corner of the garden, to which children are often relegated.

Choose small salad leaves and perhaps some small herbs to plant up the box. Cut-and –come-again crops are a good choice as you can pick just a few leaves at a time and they don’t require a huge amount of patience from the budding gardener.  Grown from seed they germinate quickly and could be ready to pick in a month.

For the really impatient, garden centres often sell cut-and-come-again salad leaves in small, inexpensive multipacks for a satisfying, instant garden or for absolute beginners that want to have a go but don’t want to grow from seed.

How to make the salad box

potato stamp
Make potato stamps to decorate your box. Image: ©CliveNichols.com

You will need:

  • A wooden wine box
  • Non toxic acrylic paint in at least two colours
  • A potato
  • A black dustbin sack
  • Multipurpose compost
  • Small herb and salad plants or seed
  1. Drill a few drainage holes in the base of the box and give the box one or two coats of paint.
  2. The decoration could be painted freehand, but using a potato print makes a pleasing pattern for even the youngest children. Young children can draw their design on the face of the cut potato and an adult can do the cutting.
  3. When the paint is dry line the box with the black dustbin sack, punching a few holes for drainage, then fill the box with the compost to within 4cm of the top.
  4. Now plant up the box, sow seeds according to the instructions on the packet and plants at the same depth as they were growing in the tray or pot. Water the box well, set it in a sunny spot, keep the compost damp and wait for your seeds and plants to grow.
Clare Matthews

About Clare Matthews

Clare Matthews combines a career as a garden designer with garden
writing. As a designer she transforms gardens both large and small,
town and country. She is the author of 10 books all of which are the
result of a real passion for plants, for hands on gardening and
creating unusual and beautiful gardens. Her work has been featured
in publications worldwide. Clare spends most of her spare time in
wellies, tending and primping her gardens in Berkshire and Devon.
View all posts by Clare.