In an anxious time, yet one that has managed to coincide with the beauty and hopefulness of spring, gardeners find it natural to take comfort in the scent and texture of soil. The gratification of eating something you have grown is a basic human experience that many people are craving right now. But we need our comfort fast! How to get to that gratification quickest? In a word: salad.
Radishes mature in as little as 21 days, and you still have a spring window in which to grow these crunchy little gems.
Also fast are cut-and-come-again lettuces like mesclun. Sow a handful of seeds and wait a couple of weeks for the tiny leaves to reach snippable size for daily salad harvests. Or, planted in rows, leave until maturity to full-size heads in 50-60 days. Sow another crop in a week or two so you have a continuing wave of baby salad greens.
Arugula is another green that can be harvested as baby leaves very quickly just by snipping them with scissors.
Garden centers have plenty of veggie starts, so lettuce transplanted now while it is still cool will be mature enough in about two weeks to let you harvest the outer leaves.
Young kale is delicious and versatile. It can be blanched and frozen when you inevitably have too much. Bok choi and other Asian greens will also mature quickly and are delicious served as small heads and baby leaves.
The rest of your anticipated vegetable bounty – the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and squashes – will need time and the summer heat to reach maturity, so plant them as you can, but enjoy the quick gratification of young salad greens and radishes now. Maybe being stuck at home will feel a bit sweeter.