Variety of Salad Greens to Grow at Home
We are quickly approaching cool-season vegetable growing season. This makes me one happy camper! Even though we have lived here for five years, when it comes to growing seasons I still am on Oklahoma time. You have probably heard me say this before — we would put our cool season vegetables in the ground in mid-February. Sounds crazy to me now!
According to Colorado State University Extension, cool season vegetables can be planted outdoors two to four weeks before the last frost. The average last frost in our area is around Mother’s Day in May. If we count back a few weeks, then we can start planting in a week or two.
Cool season vegetables are plants like broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, onions, peas, radish, turnips and greens. With the seed catalogues coming in almost daily, I thought it might be fun to check out some different types of greens to grow.
Bonnie Plants has a Buttercrunch lettuce seed that was developed by Cornell University. It is a Bibb-type lettuce and has green leaves sometimes tinged with red. It holds up well under stress and is slow to bolt. It grows best in the sun, but will tolerate part shade.
Freckles Romaine is a very unique looking lettuce. I have personally grown this one. The bright green leaves are speckled with red. It also is slow to bolt and heat tolerant. According to Everwilde Farms, this plant was originally called “Forellenschluss” which means “speckled like a trout’s back.”
Arugula is in the brassica family, along with broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. This plant offers a peppery addition to a salad. Personally, I found the taste a little strong to make this a main staple in a dinner salad, but found it pleasant in small doses. Johnny’s Selected Seeds shares online that the entire plant, including the flowers and seed pods, are edible.
Malabar spinach has a mild Swiss chard flavor and is not a true spinach. From my experience, this plant will grow like crazy in the heat, but the leaves were a little rubbery and waxy for my tastes. Similar to arugula, a little bit goes a long way. This red-vined plant is great for growing up a trellis. I think stir frying the leaves would result in a better texture and flavor than eating them raw.
Mustard greens are another favorite of mine and there are a lot of varieties from which to choose. There’s an Asian one, a red giant, Southern giant, Florida broad leaf, and more.
One of my favorite greens to grow is mustard spinach. Botanical Interests shares on their website that this plant is neither a mustard nor a spinach. The Japanese call it Komatsuna. It is a leafy green that is easy to grow. Even though it’s not a true spinach, the young leaves certainly fool my taste buds. This plant is also slow to bolt and can tolerate cold, heat and dry conditions.
Before planting, always read the seed packet. It will tell you when to sow the seeds, if they can be started indoors, the number of days to germination, and most importantly — harvest time.
Happy planning and planting! This is a printable vegetable planting guide you can use year round: ext.colostate.edu/mg/gardennotes/720.pdf
Kelley Rawlsky has an M.S. in horticulture and is the director of Bringing People and Plants Together, an organization dedicated to bringing horticulture education and therapy to the community. For more information: PeopleAndPlantsTogether@gmail.com or follow us on Facebook.