Buying leaf lettuce for salads and other fresh dishes is usually something we delegate to the grocery store and sometimes the local Farmer’s Market. When doing so, we’re limited to the types they have available. There isn’t normally a large selection there of leafy greens. Growing nutritious leafy greens in beds or even containers around the house is easy and allows us to choose unusual varieties that we might not otherwise find.
Leafy lettuce greens and other leafy vegetable types make an interesting garden arrangement, when planted in patterns or rows. These can also be mingled into ornamental beds to add to the color scheme. Plant leafy lettuce varieties from seed in late summer when many blooms of summer flowers are fading.
Prepare for Serving
Growing leafy greens (or those that are red or purple) can expand our uses of the vegetable. I found that Swiss chard and spinach are quite tasty when sauteed with bacon and spices like garlic. Serve the sauteed greens as a healthy side dish. Letting the children help with the care and harvest might make them more inclined to eat some of their vegetables.
Swiss chard has been in my cool season garden for several years. It is actually part of the beet family. If you’ve found the taste of Kale a little too bitter for your family’s tastes, perhaps they’ll like the milder chard varieties. There are twelve different types of the nutritious leafy green.
Leaves and stems are both edible and sometimes need to be prepared separately. The roots are not edible. Chard is high in fiber, iron, calcium, potassium and protein. This leafy green also provides Vitamins A, C, and K. This leafy vegetable is high in antioxidants, some of which are thought to decrease chances of developing certain chronic diseases, such as lung cancer and heart disease. However, no such claims can be substantiated.
Chards have colorful stalks that may range in color from green to colorful yellows, oranges, and reds. Leaves may be green with red veining, white, sometimes bronze, or purple. Check the package when purchasing to determine the colors.
Growing Leafy Lettuce and other Greens
Plant in rows or rounded patterns around other plants with coordinating colors. Grow Swiss chard and other leafy greens in a full sun area, or morning sun with afternoon shade. This plant prefers rich soil that is slightly acidic and well-draining, although it will grow in poor soil without much of a struggle. Keep the soil slightly moist for newly planted seeds.
Swiss chard is somewhat drought resistant, but keep it watered for a better harvest of bigger leaves. Harvest leaves from the outside when they are about 9 to 12 inches (23 to 30 cm.). If you have special plans for using the plant or if your family happens to love it, grow more through succession planting every two weeks. Take a break during hot summer days and replant as cooler days approach.