Greens are the bread and butter of the organic garden. Once you can grow these low-maintenance babies, you’re well on your way to becoming a home gardening pro. Greens are easy to work with because they practically grow themselves. Mix this bonus in with the fact that you can get a flavor range that goes from mild to pungent, and it becomes silly to avoid growing them.
In addition to being easy to work with, greens are highly economical. Did you know that a small packet of seeds can keep you stocked up for months? It’s difficult to beat their nutritious value too since a one-cup cooked serving yields a lot of iron, calcium, B vitamins, more vitamin C than an orange, and almost a full day’s worth of vitamin A.
No doubt you’re ready to head out into the snow and start placing your garden markers, but there are a few things that can make working with organic greens easier. Consider the following:
How to grow greens
On average, most green seeds can be sowed as soon as you can work the soil. Your seed packets should come with instructions, so be sure to follow those. In Iowa, greens can usually be started in late March to early April.
Work your seeds into rich, well-composted soil as this encourages rapid growth. When greens grow rapidly, they will taste better and be more tender.
When sowing time comes, place them in rows a foot or more apart. Don’t be afraid to be generous while spreading the pellets. With this technique, your greens will sprout up thick, which means thinning them gives you your first yield.
When the weather turns cold
If you experience a late season like our current one and the weather turns unexpectedly cold, you can protect your potherb beds by packing them with old newspapers or burlap bags. Remove the covers as soon as the sprouts start to appear.
To ensure your plants mature by early summer, sow successive sets of your favorite leafy greens at two-week intervals. This will give you plenty of continuous spring harvests to enjoy! Use this time wisely because when the heat and humidity of the Iowa summer kick in, most of the leafy greens in your garden will bolt (go to seed). This maturation process will make the plants’ foliage tough and bitter, therefore significantly less enjoyable. One of our favorite things to do is replant them in August or September so we can enjoy them in the fall.
Harvesting and pruning your greens
Like we said, greens are easy as pie, but there are a few tips you can use to stretch their harvest season. To keep your greens yielding for as long as possible, do the following:
- Pick some of the leaves every week – this pruning technique will encourage them to keep replenishing themselves
- Pinch off blooms as soon as they appear – this prevents your greens from bolting
- Water them well – dry vegetables will think they’re about to die and give up