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Northwest Gardening: Sow Lettuce Among Spring Bloomers

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Northwest gardeners can get a double dose of beauty and practicality by sowing salad greens among spring flowers.

pansies and lettuce in basket
Purple primroses make good growing companions for Swiss chard.

By Marianne Binetti

“Lettuce” begin down the primrose path…

I like to stroll down the primrose path and go out for dinner. My favorite spring flowers, such as primroses and pansies, are great companion plants for cool-season leafy greens, including lettuce, Swiss chard and spinach.

You’ll see in the video how my flower garden blooming with primroses, pansies, hellebores and other spring bloomers also is a place to gather fresh greens for dinner. I just tuck the young salad greens amid the blooming plants.

Moist soil benefits pink primroses and red leaf lettuce.

Here’s why it works to grow salad greens with spring bloomers:

  • Moist soil that is rich in organic matter is good for primroses, pansies and other woodland plants and happens to be a favorite of leafy greens as well.
  • Many of my favorite woodland flowers—such as corydalis, pulmonaria, hellebores, primroses and pansies—bloom in partial shade; and leafy greens, such as spinach and lettuce, are some of the few veggies that produce a harvest in partial shade.
  • Harvesting a salad amid the flowers is a fun way to enjoy the little details of these woodland jewels. Primroses are low-growing plants, and harvesting greens forces you to kneel down and hunt amid the bloomers for the bountiful harvest. It reminds me of going on an Easter egg hunt.

Harvesting Tip: Use scissors to shear off the fresh greens, or just remove the outermost leaves, as I do in the video, while they are still young and tender. Many types of leaf lettuce, spinach and chards will resprout from the crown when sheared back in spring.

So remember, you don’t need a vegetable garden or even a pot or patio to grow great greens. Just plant seeds or young starts as soon as you see the first daffodils bud. Then pick your produce from among the primroses and you’ll be on a healthy path to a fresh salad.