leafy greens

It’s a new year and many of us have resolved to get healthier. Why not make it last by actually planning your garden around it? Then, you have no choice since your food is in your back yard! The good news is that most greens, whether common or specialty generally require similar cultural conditions, so you can really branch out (no pun intended!). Since I’ve also resolved to be more natural this year, I turned to the University of Minnesota’s horticulture department to break down the types of greens I should be growing and why.

Leafy Greens:

Here is a list of greens commonly grown in a home garden:

  • Collards
  • Endive
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Arugula
  • Romaine

 

And that’s just to name a few. Your dark lettuces like romaine and arugula are rich in nutrients like vitamins A, C, and K. They are known to improve bone health, skin health, blood health and eyesight.

The cruciferous greens have it all: vitamins, fiber, and disease-fighting phytochemicals. Kale, mustard greens and collard greens fall into this almighty category. Most importantly, these options are cancer inhibitors, as well as minerals enhance heart health and brain function. Talk about a super food.

Finally, Swiss chard and spinach are great options. They boast vibrant green leaves—a sure sign of goodness. The color indicates their richness in iron, a necessity.

 

Growing and Planting

Leaf lettuce grows quickly and is the easiest type of lettuce to grow. A cool weather vegetable, they grow best at 60-65° F in a soil with a pH of 6-6.5. Most greens will do best planted outdoors in the light shade. Perpetual watering is absolutely necessary, especially in the warmest months to delay or even prevent bolting. If the plant dries out, the leaves will become bitter and unusable. Successive sowings in small numbers of seeds will ensure continues, fecund growth.

Harvest the leaves as soon as you can. Spinach and other lettuce varieties can produce new leaves, if individual leaves are harvested at the “baby” stage, so multiple harvests are possible. Flavor is best in leafy greens if harvested before the weather becomes hot and dry.

 Are you going to grow leafy greens this year?

Image: iStockPhoto

Melissa Bader is an English teacher who loves to sit outside and read in her hammock while watching her husband do the gardening. Melissa has two children, a boy and girl. She finds time to write while sitting in the rocking chairs while waiting for them to go to sleep. When not blogging about gardening, Melissa is working on a women’s fiction novel.

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