In my last blog, I talked about our the free salad mix gardening kits from the One Seed program here at UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County. The kits are available at our Twin Lakes Park office, as well as at your local Sarasota County public library over the next two weeks.
So, why is a non-gardener like me, who did find great success growing a salad mix last year, promoting this wonderful free resource? Well, for many reasons.
For one, it’s a great family activity. You also can use the experience to teach your children about the sources of our food. And, there is the intrinsic value of knowing that you nurtured seeds to grow into something you can enjoy.
But, as much as anything, a great reason to grow your fresh greens mix is the delicious taste and nutritional benefits.
The salad mix seed packets contain a variety of greens, each with a unique flavor profile. Tatsoi, mizuna and kale are generally mild, while arugula and red mustard deliver a spicier punch. Together, they make for a blend of wonderful flavors in every bite.
And, it gets better.
Each bit of salad mix also delivers an amazing nutritional package for our bodies. Salad greens are high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E and K. If that’s not enough, they are packed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and a lot of other micronutrients and phytochemicals. These tender, nutritious and delicious leaves have it all!
Keep the health benefits going with an inexpensive, simple vinaigrette dressing. All it takes is a ratio of three parts oil to one part vinegar.
And be creative. Use different oils, such as olive or grapeseed, along with a variety of vinegars. There are some wonderful varieties of vinegars on the market. You can also use orange juice instead of the vinegar for a completely different flavor. Don’t forget to add some dried fruit such as those wonderful cranberries we talked about in another blog or dried cherries or even raisins.
Make it fresh each time you prepare a salad, or whip up more than you’ll need for one salad and simply store the extra for your next salad. For food safety, if you add garlic to your homemade dressing, be sure to use it all in one setting or refrigerate as soon as possible and use up the next day.
And keep the creativity rolling for your salad, try adding grated carrot, pumpkin seeds, fresh mushrooms, feta or goat cheese, fresh herbs, or even cooked rice from last night’s dinner. Of course, you can always add the usual tomato, cucumbers, sweet onions and peppers, but try to think outside of your traditional salad zone.
I hope you are excited to start growing your salad mix. Remember to pick up your free salad mix kit at our office (Twin Lakes Park, 6700 Clark Road, Sarasota) or at your local Sarasota County public library.
Now, get growing!
If you are interested in learning more about using fresh herbs and spices in your cooking and how to store them properly, please visit our ufsarasotaext.eventbrite.com listing pages and look for one of our free “Cooking with Herbs and Spices” classes.