Growing Lettuce in Containers: DIY Salad Colander

Harvest lettuce right from your kitchen by planting it in a colander. This super simple project even makes for an impressive table display.

By Philippa Pearson

Small Space Garden Ideas

Small Space Garden Ideas (DK Publishing, 2014) by Philippa Pearson redefines “small garden” for people who really have no garden at all. Drawing on inexpensive recycling ideas and simple craft skills, these step-by-step projects make the most of your balcony garden, patio, or roof. In this excerpt from the section “Micro Garden,” learn how to grow lettuce in unique containers such as a kitchen colander.

You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Small Space Garden Ideas.

Sow red and green leaf lettuce seeds in a vintage colander for a stunning effect inspired by patchwork. It makes an impressive display at dinner parties where guests can cut their own fresh salad leaves.

Time it Right: Sow cut-and-come-again lettuce from spring to early fall and also through fall and into winter by using seasonal varieties. You should be cutting the first harvest in 4 to 5 weeks.

Salad Colander

Tools and Equipment

Colander with feet
Hanging basket liner
Multipurpose potting mix
Large scoop or trowel
Watering can 

Seed List

Batavia leaf lettuce
Red leaf lettuce


Step 1

1. Place your colander upside down on some thick cardstock and draw around the rim. Then draw another circle inside the outline, 3/4 to 1 1/2-inch smaller.

Step 2

2. Within the smaller circle, draw your stencil design. Keep it simple; we divided the circle into four quadrants. Cut out your stencil, and keep all the shapes.

Step 3

3. Place a hanging-basket liner inside the colander—this will help to keep soil and moisture inside the container. Cut to shape, to just below the rim for a cleaner look.

Step 4

4. Fill the colander with multipurpose potting mix to just under the level of the liner, then tap the colander down on a hard surface to get rid of any air pockets and to level the surface.

Step 5

5. Water the soil surface well at this stage so as not to disperse the seeds in the design.

Step 6

6. Cover alternate sections of the design with stencils and sow lettuce seeds of one color, then cover the sown areas with stencils and sow the remaining areas with the other lettuce seeds.

Step 7

7. Remove stencils and sprinkle a layer of soil mix over all the seeds to cover them lightly, then place in a warm, bright place, or outside in summer. Note that red lettuce seedlings will be green at first and then change to red as the plants mature.

Care Advice


You won't need to water for a few days to start with since you have watered the soil mix before sowing; it is then best to spray with a mister to stop seeds from dispersing before germination and disrupting the design. Make sure the soil mix doesn't dry out. Water overhead once seeds have germinated using a watering can with a fine nozzle, but do not overwater since the small seedlings may die off in too much moisture. In very dry summer conditions, place the colander in a container filled with water up to the level of the colander's base so that it absorbs water from underneath; this method will also stop seeds from dispersing before germination.


Use a light liquid feed between harvests to encourage more leaves to grow back for cutting.

Text and images reproduced by permission of DK, a division of Penguin Random House (USA) from Small Space Garden Ideas by Philippa Pearson. ©2014 by DK. All rights reserved. Buy this book: Small Space Garden Ideas.

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