Start a Salad Garden

May 3, 2022 By Alixandra Nozzolillo

Spring isn’t only full of showers and flowers – it marks our average last day of frost in early April, even though this year may not feel like it! As long as the soil is workable, spring means the opportunity to plant hearty greens outside.

Growing your own food is a hyperlocal and good-for-the-earth way to eat, but it also can be incredibly satisfying. Not to mention saving a few dollars at the store each grocery shop. So don’t be intimidated – try growing a few edible plants from seed, and you’re bound to get the hang of it. Lettuce (and other cold-tolerant hearty greens) is forgiving and much easier to grow than you might think.

A fun activity to do with the whole family, all you need are a few simple ingredients picked up at one of the many local garden supply stores in or near Hingham.


Container + Dirt (& Plant Food) + Seeds + Water + Sunlight + Patience = Salad Greens


  • Any small receptacle with holes in the bottom can work. Get creative – you could even start seeds in a used egg container and then transplant them. If you’re trying it out for the first time, you don’t need to spend a ton of money. Experiment!
  • If starting plants inside, put them on a sunny windowsill or under sufficient grow lights. If they start to look “leggy” and tall, it’s time to get a closer light source or begin to move them outside. Harden the emerging plants by putting them outside for a few hours a day before permanently moving the pots outside or transplanting them.
  • If starting outside, be aware of lettuce lovers that live in town: rabbits, chipmunks, and other creatures enjoy fresh vegetables too. A light agricultural fabric to put over the plants, placing your pots up on a table outside, or a simple fence can protect plants.


  • Potting soil is great for starting inside since it’s a “cleaner dirt”.
  • Compost is the perfect bed for plants outside.
  • Planting directly in our Hingham soil is also a great option.
  • Seaweed fertilizer (found through the New England seed companies below) is a great option for vegetables.  Pick a fertilizer that notes it’s for growing vegetables, since not all are. Feed your plants weekly or per instructions on the plant food.
  • Earthworm castings are also a terrific nutrient provider to check out.

Support local New England seed companies that have a variety of lettuce – from crisp green romaine to flavorful heirloom dark red leaves:

Don’t plant the seeds too deep, and keep the soil moist. And don’t worry if they don’t sprout right away – it can take a few days.

While you’re at it… Spinach, Rainbow Chard, Kale and Collards – and even edible flowers like Nasturtiums – are worth a try, too. Just make sure your pots are big enough for so much green goodness.

Don’t feel like ordering seeds online or need dirt, fertilizer, and/or containers? Try these great local spots:

  • Weston Nurseries on Main Street
  • Whole Foods at Derby Street
  • Hingham Lumber Company, Cohasset
  • Cohasset Village Greenery
  • Aubuchon Hardware, Cohasset
  • That Bloomin’ Place, Norwell and Weymouth

Still don’t have time or energy to gather the materials and plant? Outsource the efforts and buy the pre-planted seedlings ready for transplanting at a plant sale.

May is plant sale month in the South Shore. Stellar local spots to buy edible seedlings:

Our local farmers and plant nurseries are always happy to help the home gardener with questions, and some even have classes on how to grow your own food. Happy planting!

About the author

Alix Nozzolillo is a Seattleite turned Hinghamite, who has a passion for all things outdoors and the petrichor on both coasts. When she’s not hiking, mountain biking, paddleboarding, sailing, or gardening with her husband and two young kids, Alix can be found working in communications and administration at a higher education institution. In 2016, Alix received the Outstanding Early Career Award from the University of Washington, recognizing her accomplishments related to communication and commitment to the public good.

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