The Complete Guide to Growing Garden Greens

Garden greens are always a welcome change in our garden after the summer heat. Here’s some info to get you started growing your own greens at home.

Mustard GreensThe best garden greens to grow and how to prepare and eat them

Mustard greens became a favorite in my house as soon as we harvested our first bunch. They are tender like spinach and delicious fresh or cooked. So far, Tatsoi is my favorite variety to eat, and Purple Osaka is a real beauty in the garden.

Spinach just can’t produce fast enough for the amount we go through – it’s always a winner. I add to smoothies, eggs, pasta sauce, you name it. I’m planning to grow as much as I have space for this upcoming season. Bloomsdale is our fave.

Bok choy has been really fun to grow. I mostly like it because it’s a good way to change things up a bit when you’ve been eating a lot of greens and want something different. My favorite way to eat it is in a stir-fry. Shanghai Green Pac Choy is my personal fave.

Collard greens were a new one for me once I started gardening. I can’t remember a time, growing up, that I ate them. They are great chopped and added to all sorts of dishes or eaten as the star of the dish in a southern-style recipe like the one below. Champion collards are my favorite variety so far.

Swiss chard is a total beauty in the garden, especially during seasons when there is mainly green growing. It is also a two-for-one kind of green – you can use the stems just like celery in soups and other dishes. Five Color Silverbeet is the way to go when growing Swiss chard – you never know which color is going to pop up, and they are all so vibrant.

Lettuce, unlike many of the other garden greens, is delicate and tender. Although it’s not a green variety, my favorite is Outredgeous Romaine Lettuce. It grows extremely well for us and adds a fun pop of color to our salads.

Arugula is a must if you like your greens with a bit more flavor and especially if you like a little spice. Astro is my favorite variety.

bok choy

How to harvest your garden greens

Greens are cut-and-come-again crops, meaning that you can harvest from them all season long.

When harvesting your greens, leave 4-6 leaves for photosynthesis, and the plant will keep producing more leaves for your next harvest.

When cutting leaves off of plants, cut as close to the base of the plant as you can.

How to wash your garden greens

After harvesting our lettuce, I bring it inside and toss it into our salad spinner. Then, I fill the salad spinner with water and let it soak a bit before lifting out the inner bowl to drain the water. Typically, I go outside to toss the water back into the garden before placing the inner bowl back inside, closing the lid and pressing down the pump on the top to spin the lettuce. It’s the fastest and easiest way to wash and dry off your greens, and it’s fun for kids to use, if you are looking for helpers!

salad greens

How to store your garden greens

Since the inner bowl of the salad spinner is raised up, not touching the bottom where extra water drips down, it makes the salad spinner an excellent option for storing extra lettuce in the refrigerator as well. The only downside to this is the space it takes up.

These are another option for storage that keeps the produce from touching the bottom where excess water pools. I own a set and love them for storing both lettuce and fruit.

Favorite Recipes with Garden Greens

  • For salads, I like to combine spinach, mustard greens, lettuce, Swiss chard and arugula. One of our favorite fall salads is with a Caesar dressing – my absolute favorite recipe for it is from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook. I make my own mayonnaise using a recipe from Kitchen Konfidence for the Caesar, and it does not disappoint.
  • An excellent southern-style recipe for your collard greens. This is great when they start growing like crazy and you need a dish where they can be the highlight.
  • Chop any combination of them up and add them to soups, sauces and/or stir-fry dishes.

I hope this information helps you enjoy some on your very own homegrown garden greens!

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