Growing Salad Leaves in Rain Guttering
Leaves in the guttering is usually something we avoid... except when it comes to growing leaves! We've been growing salad in rain guttering for years. If you've thought about it too and are not sure where to start, this is how to get yours set up. You can have fresh Salad Leaves available whenever you want them through Spring, Summer and Autumn. You can even grow them successfully in Winter, depending on where you live. And all at very low cost.
Where should I install my Guttering?
Ideally your guttering should be located on a wall or fence which gets anything from 4 to 6 hours of sunlight a day. Lettuce doesn't need sunlight all day long, in fact it doesn't really thrive in those conditions. It tends to grow better with sun and shade, so avoid a South facing wall if you can.
What kind of Guttering should I use?
You need plastic square guttering (as opposed to round guttering) for this project. Round guttering isn't as deep so it doesn't give your leaves enough room for their roots to develop, and it dries out too quickly. Floplast 114mm square line guttering is exactly the guttering we use.
How long should my Guttering be?
These instructions assume you are using a 2 metre length of guttering. You can use any length of guttering you like, but we think 2 metres is ideal if you have the space. 1 metre works well too. Any longer than 2 metres and you risk the weight of the soil and salad damaging the wall or fence, or the guttering bowing in the middle.
Why do I need to drill a hole in the Guttering?
You need to drill a hole because when it rains heavily, the guttering floods and the salad leaves will rot and die. Most pots you buy have a drainage hole for the same reason.
How do I look after my Gutter Salad Leaves?
You should aim to water your gutter Salad Leaves at least once a day in summer. There is only a small amount of compost in the guttering and it will dry out very quickly. We water ours in the morning, so that they are crisp and not floppy when we come to pick them in the evening. The other benefit of watering in the morning is that you can see how much they've grown since yesterday. You will be amazed. We feed our leaves with an all purpose feed about every 6 weeks during the summer.
How long will the compost last?
We grow about 2 lots of leaves in each batch of compost, then replace it with fresh. Simply put the used earth on the compost heap, or put into others pots and top up with fresh.
Setting up Guttering to grow Salad Leaves
You will need
- 1x 2 metre length of plastic square line rain guttering
- 2x external stop-ends for the square line guttering (don't use internal stop ends, they must be external)
- 3x square line guttering facia brackets and screws
- A screwdriver
- A tape measure or a spirit level (so you can make your guttering level)
- An electric drill to drill a drainage hole at one end of the guttering
- 1 small bag of general purpose compost
- a stone/piece of terracotta to put over the drainage hole
- Cut and come again Salad leaf seeds or plug plants
(You may also need a hacksaw, if you need to cut your guttering to size.)
1. If your guttering needs cutting to size, do this first with the hacksaw.
2. Drill a hole in one end of the guttering for drainage.
3. Drill a hole and attach one of the facia brackets to the wall or fence.
4. Measure or use a spirit level to mark where the second facia bracket needs to go. Mark the spot, drill the hole and fit your second bracket.
5. Mark where the third facia bracket needs to go, drill the hole and fit it.
6. Fit the external stop-ends to the guttering.
7. Put the guttering on the wall, resting it on the brackets.
8. Put the stone over the drainage hole, and fill the guttering with compost.
9. Sow your seeds or plant your plug plants.
10. Water and wait - it won't be long!
If you plant lettuce plug plants, you can start taking leaves from them in a week or so. If you sow the seeds, you'll have lettuces ready to eat in 3 weeks or more, depending on the variety.
The sooner your guttering is up and filled with seeds or plug plants, the sooner you'll be enjoying fresh, delicious salad leaves for almost no cost, all year round!