Warmer weather brings about gardens and lighter appetites.

Joyce Swett looks forward to spring and the start of what she likes to call her “salad garden.”

From cherry tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers and banana peppers to onions, green onions, carrots and radishes, the St. Joseph gardener plans for rows of all her favorite toppings.

“I find that I don’t eat a lot of heavy foods in the summer months,” Swett said. “That coupled with the fact I try to eat as nature provides things just makes sense to me.”

Swett suggests planting leaf, romaine and other lettuces as soon as the soil allows, usually when outside temperatures are between 40 and 85 degrees. To keep lettuce producing throughout the season, she said to plant with 10 to 14 days between each other to extend harvests.

Since Swett is a self-proclaimed connoisseur, she has some tried-and-true salad recipes, both from her garden and others she enjoys. Try these!

Wedge Salad (yields four servings)

Ingredients:

1 head iceberg lettuce

1 tomato

1/2 red onion

1 cup bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled

1 cup blue cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup blue cheese dressing

Directions: Remove the stem from a head of iceberg lettuce and then cut into four equal wedges. Cook bacon until crispy and crumbled once cooled. Chop tomato and red onion.

Drizzle creamy blue cheese dressing on top of lettuce. This helps the toppings stick.

Top each wedge with tomato, red onion, crumbled bacon and blue cheese crumbles.

Simple Garden Salad

(yields four servings)

Ingredients:

1 pound mixed greens

1 avocado

4 cucumbers

3 tomatoes

2 green onions

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Ingredients for garden salad dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Make your own homemade croutons by breaking up day-old toasted bread that has been tossed with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

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