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How to grow your own greens

By: Garden Gate staff
Everything tastes better when you grow it yourself. Should you grow lettuce, kale, mustard or another leafy green? We'll help you decide and show you how to grow them.

The colorful foliage of leafy greens looks great in a flower bed or in a vegetable row. And they’re not always green in color, which gives you lots of options for creative designs! Here are 6 different types of leafy greens. Learn which ones will grow best in your garden and how to grow lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, malabar spinach and mustard here.

Check out this clever way to grow greens

Tips for growing greens

Most greens prefer cool weather (50 to 75 degrees F), so plan ahead for the best months to grow them in your area. In some climates that's winter. In others, it's early spring or fall.

Plant all greens in full sun. Soil that's consistently moist, but not soggy, yields the best greens. Sow spinach, kale and mustard six weeks before the average last frost in spring, three weeks later for lettuce and swiss chard. Set out malabar spinach plants after the threat of frost has passed. As seeds sprout, thin seedlings to 6 inches apart by cutting, not pulling.

When plants bolt (or send up flower stalks), pull them up — the flavor will start to diminish after this.

Different types of greens to grow

Lettuce

Combine two or more varieties of lettuce to create texture in the garden. Space plants about 8 in. apart and cut baby lettuces a month after sowing or full heads at 50 days.

Spinach

Sow spinach seeds a bit more thickly for a fall crop than you would in spring. If the soil is still very warm, it may reduce germination. And keep the soil moist, either by extra watering or spreading an organic mulch as soon as the seeds are up and growing. Pinch off a few leaves to eat when they’re just an inch or two long. Or wait and cut the whole rosette later, at 25 to 35 days after harvest. Another benefit of mulch is that it keeps the leaves cleaner.

Malabar spinach

This is the perfect choice if hot weather prevents you from having good luck with other greens. This will thrive! It’s a vine with glossy, thick leaves and purple-red stems and a mild Swiss chard taste. Start harvesting leaves 45 days after sowing.

Kale

Kale is both gorgeous and good for you. Begin harvesting 22 days after sowing for baby greens and 50 to 60 days for mature leaves. Try baking kale chips or chop leaves for a soup. Add kale to a fall container or plant them with ornamental grasses.

Swiss chard

Colorful stems and wavy, dark green leaves make this plant stand out in the garden or in a pot. It’s easy to grow all season long; just harvest outer leaves when you need them, starting 58 days after sowing.

Mustard greens

Large purple-tinged leaves have a mildly spicy mustard flavor. Like many other greens, it bolts, or sends up a flower stalk, when temps heat up. Begin harvesting 20 days after sowing for baby greens and 40 days for full heads.

Lettuce

Combine two or more varieties of lettuce to create texture in the garden. Space plants about 8 in. apart and cut baby lettuces a month after sowing or full heads at 50 days.

Kale

Kale is both gorgeous and good for you. Begin harvesting 22 days after sowing for baby greens and 50 to 60 days for mature leaves. Try baking kale chips or chop leaves for a soup. Add kale to a fall container or plant them with ornamental grasses.

Spinach

Sow spinach seeds a bit more thickly for a fall crop than you would in spring. If the soil is still very warm, it may reduce germination. And keep the soil moist, either by extra watering or spreading an organic mulch as soon as the seeds are up and growing. Pinch off a few leaves to eat when they’re just an inch or two long. Or wait and cut the whole rosette later, at 25 to 35 days after harvest. Another benefit of mulch is that it keeps the leaves cleaner.

Swiss chard

Colorful stems and wavy, dark green leaves make this plant stand out in the garden or in a pot. It’s easy to grow all season long; just harvest outer leaves when you need them, starting 58 days after sowing.

Malabar spinach

This is the perfect choice if hot weather prevents you from having good luck with other greens. This will thrive! It’s a vine with glossy, thick leaves and purple-red stems and a mild Swiss chard taste. Start harvesting leaves 45 days after sowing.

Mustard greens

Large purple-tinged leaves have a mildly spicy mustard flavor. Like many other greens, it bolts, or sends up a flower stalk, when temps heat up. Begin harvesting 20 days after sowing for baby greens and 40 days for full heads.

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