Planting and Growing Greens

1 comment by David Schulze
Leafy greens aren't just green.

This page gives tips on planting and growing greens with many helpful tips and some advice based on David's own experiences. 

Before beginning, read our pages on germination, soil testing and soil temperature.

There are many types of Greens but they are all mostly grown the same way.

There are Asian Greens, Mixed Greens, Pac Choi and Leafy Greens. Also in this class are Arugula, Cress, Sorrel and Mustard Greens. 

Some varieties can be grown when the temperatures drop down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and other varieties can be grown when it is hot, above 90 degrees F., but the best time to grow greens is in early spring and in the fall.

Greens are mostly green in color with some shades of red mixed in as well. They come in a multitude of shades of color, from dark to medium to light.

Most greens are leafy which means you can harvest the leaf and the plant will keep on growing. There are some exceptions like Pac Choi where the whole plant is harvested.

And some of the green tops produced by beets, carrots and turnips can be eaten as greens. If the greens can be eaten, the seed variety information should be able to tell you.

Leafy greens vary in habit (how and where they grow), color, texture, flavor, and a number of other characteristics. This group includes varieties of purslane, orach, magenta spreen, vegetable amaranth, tetragonia, celtuce, Malabar spinach, claytonia, and minutina.

Sorrel's tangy leaves add a bright, lemony flavor to soups, salads, and sauces. Choose an all-green or red-veined variety to grow full size or harvest at baby-leaf stage. Cultivated as a cool-weather crop.

Arugula is a crop native to southern Europe and Western Asia, there are two general classes of arugula (also known as rocket or salad rocket) grown here in the US and abroad: salad and wild types. Both types have the peppery flavor characteristic of arugula, though the wild types are generally spiciest and have a better shelf life than standard types. Enjoy the entire plant, with its edible flowers and seed pods. Flowers of both types have a mild arugula flavor, and add color and flavor to salads and stir-fries.

With flavors ranging from mildly pungent to sweet, Asian greens have traditionally been marketed in full-size bunches for use in stir-fries and soups, but are also being prepared in novel ways and used extensively in salad mixes here in the West. When plants begin to bolt, the tender shoots can also be harvested for bunching. With their diverse colors, flavors, and textures they allow growers to stand out at the market or add unique plate appeal.

Mustard greens are pungent leafy greens from the brassica family are traditional fare in Asia, Africa, the Southeastern US, and other regional pockets. Their familiar spicy-mustard flavor lends itself well to stir-fries and sautés, as well as salad mix. Choose from diverse colors — light to dark green, purple, red, or variegated — and textures — smooth, frilly, or serrated leaves. For added value, create mixed bunches of three or more varieties.

Pac Choi is a staple in Asian stir fries and soups, pac choi — alternatively pak choi and bok choy — has a mild mustard flavor with background sweetness.

Then read our page on CowPots vs Plastic Pots to decide which one you are going to use for transplanting.  Even though you can direct sow greens seeds, it is usually best to start them in a pot and transplant them.

Before transplanting out, you will need to Harden Off your plants.

Greens taste good (most of them do) so humans are not the only ones who enjoy eating them. Every insect known to man loves greens as well.  If not controlled, the insects can devastate your crop overnight. Of course, the leafy part will continue to grow.

Once again, I spray my crop with organic insecticides before an infestation starts. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Amazon offers a bonanza of organic sprays designed to keep our plants insect free.

As far as fungi go, I have not had a problem with fungi on my greens. But it would not hurt to pre-treat with some sort of organic fungicide. Even do the same with the insects. There are organic chemicals that do there things:  fungicide, insecticide and miticide which is a mite killer.

There are many ways to plant greens but I am going to talk about the way I plant them. I start by placing 2 to 3 seeds in a 3 inch round CowPot. Once these germinate, I will thin to one seedling. 

Once the seedling is about 4 to 6 inches tall, and the outside temperature is right (according to the variety directions), I will harden off the transplant and plant it outside using a transplant solution like a fish fertilizer.

I will plant them about 10 to 12 inches apart. Keep the soil moist and the plants fertilized. I will start to pick the leaves when the plants are 8 inches tall.

And basically that is it with greens. Very easy to grow. Your main problem will be keeping the bugs off.  If you have an over abundance and they start to wilt, the leaves can be picked and put in the compost pile.

Also rabbits, chickens, goats and a lot of farm animals like greens.

Your county extension agent, master gardeners in your area, and YouTube offer a lot of information on growing greens.

Most greens will withstand temps down into the high 20's.

1 comment

  • Wendy Thornton

    Do you sell texas grass seeds. I am looking for cup grass seeds.

    Thank you.

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