Something Different when Growing Greens in the Home Garden

Reports on the news recently talked about rising prices and shortages of lettuce and other salad greens because of cold temperatures in Florida and California. This may leave you wondering what to do about the salads and vegetables you put on the table for your family. The answer to this dilemma is easy; you can grow your own in the home garden. Leafy greens grow easily in large containers or can be an addition to the flowerbed. Add some unusual greens in the garden for variety in your salad.

Most leafy greens grow best before temperatures outside are hot. The following greens are best started indoors and moved outside when chances of freezing are past. Some will take frost and are actually more tasteful after being nipped. Greens do not need warm soil temperatures to germinate and grow. If you don’t start them indoors, plant seeds in late winter or early spring outside.

Leaf lettuce

The heirloom lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson, produces within 45 days. It has ruffled leaves, an appealing light green color and grows well in many climates. Mesclun mix is another type of leaf lettuce that looks and tastes excellent in salads. Because it is a mixture, colors and appearance vary. Mesclun mix often includes baby spinach, curly endive, dandelion and lamb’s lettuce .

Dandelions Leaves

You may harvest dandelion leaves from the “weeds” growing in your yard, in addition to growing them in the Mesclun mix. Young dandelion leaves are more tender and tasteful, those from older plants have a tendency to be bitter. Eating dandelion greens include a number of healthy benefits, but dandelion plants are edible from root to flower. Avoid those that have been sprayed with chemicals.

Broccoli and Cauliflower Greenery

If you’re successfully growing broccoli and cauliflower, you can eat the leaves. If removed when they’re still small, they may be tender enough to use in salads. After the heads of the vegetables have developed, these leaves may be cooked like spinach and are packed with nutrition and great taste.

Swiss Chard

One of my favorite greens to grow in the home garden is Swiss chard. I first heard of this leafy green a couple of years ago and of course I tried growing it. I was amazed how rapidly it grows and how nutritious it is seemingly second only to spinach for nutrients. Here in USDA Garden zone 7, I can grow it year round. There’s a variety called ‘ Rainbow ‘ that looks amazing in the ornamental garden.

Not all leaves from fruit and vegetables can be eaten, avoid leaves of nightshade plants, such as tomatoes, as they are poison. Always research before you eat any plant leaves.

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