I'm trying to put a little more effort into the salad greens portion of my garden this year. In past years, I have had so many volunteer lettuce seedlings pop up around the garden that I never had to intentionally plant any. However, after overhauling the garden this year, I wanted to start with a clean slate, which means no volunteers.
I'm trying several new salad crop varieties this year including 'Tom Thumb' shown in the foreground below. Tom thumb is a miniature butterhead lettuce. The idea is that you can harvest the entire head and it's enough for a single salad. Head lettuces can be difficult to grow in my area because spring is almost nonexistent (and this year was no exception). They need cool weather in order to "head up" and our temps tend to jump straight from freezing to boiling. Even if these little guys don't make it to the table, they're adorable in they're own right.
I'm also trying frisee for the first time this year. This is a variety of endive that will grow into really wispy leaves, great for adding texture and bulk to salad mixes. My seedlings haven't started to take on the wispy growth yet, but they're still pretty young.
Another new variety, and possibly my most favorite new variety, is 'Ruby Streaks' mustard. It's peppery, texturey (is that a word?), and gorgeous!
I've devoted almost two whole (approximately 22' long) rows to what I'm calling salad crops this year including kales, endives, swiss chards, carrots, and lettuces. I attempted to plant them in alternating bands of green and red/purple-leaved varieties, so once they bulk up a bit, I think it will be really pretty.
Here's a better look at the drip tape I installed. There are little holes every 12 inches that drip water at a fairly fast pace. I only installed two rows of tape per 36" wide bed. So far it seems to be adequate.
I also plan on fencing in the salad garden this year. Last year the rabbits and squirrels got a little out of hand. While the fence won't keep the squirrels out, at least the rabbits won't be able to make a buffet out of my kale (below) and the rest of my salad garden.