plantin’ greens, myths and all

One year, I got it in my head that I could find some vegetable that would love to grow in a bed that only had a few hours of direct sun in the summer.  I had scoured veggie catalogs for something that would work until one day, ta-da!  Greens!  Spinach, kale and chard-oh my!  So from my favorite seed catalog (http://www.southernexposure.com/), I ordered a

Vates kale

packet of Vates kale then threw caution to the wind.

Actually, I threw the seeds in the dirt and watered and waited.   I will admit that seeding is one area that I allow nature to take charge.  I just don’t have it in me to parcel out each speck into the dirt.  I do what I like to call the “throw and hoe” method.  I take seed in my hand and scatter it in a couple of throws into its area then lightly drag a hoe across it to mix the seed into the ground.

As little sprouts began to arrive, I realized that those tiny seeds had clumped into small groups.  After thinning, I had a pretty good size area of kale seedlings prepared for maturation.  And mature they did!  Kale grew faster than we could eat it or give it away, and it just kept growing!

Delighted by that success, I gave it a go with spinach and chard then lettuces of various colors and textures.  Each one loved the cooler temps of the dappled sun and provided us with an abundant harvest from mid-summer through early winter.   It was almost bittersweet when I cut the last of the rainbow chard in mid-December.

What’s great about greens is how versatile they are.  They love the cooler temps so can be started early in Spring or later in Autumn.  They need enough sun to grow but don’t mind some shade in the middle of a hot summer day.  If you keep cutting their leaves so that they don’t bolt, you’ll continue to have produce for a decent span of time.  Plus, even in a small packet of seeds, you are bound to have some plants grow if you give them enough space to mature.  The best thing about greens though is how nutritious they are for you AND can be prepared in so many ways!  (check out my blog post on my two favorite recipes for chard)

A few myths about greens:

early rainbow chard
  • All greens are the same–uh, no.  Personally, I don’t care for turnip greens, but I’ll eat collards any day.  It all depends on your palate, but there are plenty of varieties to choose, from mild to bitter.
  • Greens get mushy when you cook them–well, yeah, if you boil them for days on end in lots of salt and bacon or eat them out of a can.  Lightly sauteed greens can actually have a crunch–it’s all in the preparation.
  • Greens give you muscles like Popeye–sadly, someone I know was told that as a kid, and when it didn’t happen, he quit eating spinach.  Let’s not blame a vegetable for the things parents tell us to get us to eat dinner.

So, in summary–greens are delicious, greens are easy to grow, and greens are good for you.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to check on my breakfast souffle for tomorrow–sundried tomato and kale–yummmmy!

 

 

 

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