A healthy salad made with fresh garden greens or a heaping helping of collard greens can add flavor, vitamins and minerals to any meal. In the Fall, garden greens grow easily and when they are planted in stages, the harvest can be enjoyed though the rest of the year.
Garden greens do not require a large space to grow, a small area can be sufficient to grow several types of greens. If a flower garden is all of the space available, greens can be added in their own section or the greens can be grown in containers.
Herbs that are grown in the Fall can be started from seed or they can be transplanted into the ground. Seeds can be sown with their own kind or they can be mixed to create a unique salad medley. The greens will produce a colorful, edible carpet of flavor and nutrition.
When the plants are two or three inches tall – thin them by pulling up every-other plant. Use the pulled-up green in your next salad. Excess greens can be given to friends and neighbors – if they come and pick them.
Arugula – When arugula is added to sandwiches and salads, arugula (also known as rocket) add a distinctive spicy, toasted flavor that . Larger leaves may be cooked.
Beet Greens – Get this delicious bonus when beets are grown. The beet greens appear first and they should be removed as soon as possible – for the freshest taste. Beet greens have a taste that is similar to beets. The beet greens – when removed early are very tender – can be steamed, stir-fried or sauteed. ‘Bull’s Blood’ beets have bright red leaves that are best when eaten new. Large leaves can be boiled, sauteed, or used in stir-fry recipes.
Bok Choy – This is Chinese cabbage with a sweet, delicate flavor. It can be used in stir-fry recipes or sauteed and eaten as a side dish.
Collard Greens – One of the most popular plants in the ‘greens’ category, collard greens need to be cooked before eaten. To remove some of the strong flavor, boil the greens in water for one minute, pour the water off and cook the greens as usual.
Dandelion Greens – Used most often in Italian recipes, the delicious dandelion green is slightly bitter when eaten. Dandelion greens can be found growing wild in most lawns. New dandelion greens can be added to salads. Older leaves can be cooked with kale to add flavor.
Escarole – A salad green that look like lettuce but has a strong flavor with thick, curly leaves. Escarole is more popular in France and Italy than in the United States. It is commonly used in salads, braised or prepared in the oven with vegetable stock or wine.
Kale – A close relative to cabbage and it is thought to be the first green eaten. There are several varieties that have a sweet flavor when grown in cold weather. ‘Redbor Hybrid Kale’, ‘Winterbor Kale’ can last through winter. ‘Lacinata kale’ has bluish-green leaves and ‘Red Russian kale’ has purple-toned leaves.
Mizuma – Japan is the home of this delicious green with long thin leaves and a very, delicate mild flavor. Mizuma can be added to salads, sauteed and used in stir-fry recipes.
Mustard Greens – Red or green, these are spicy greens most often used in Southern recipes. When left uncooked, mustard greens can be added to salads. Red mustard green leaves add color to salads and a mild flavor.
Sorrel – A lemony flavor is the distinct identifier of this salad green. The fresh, young leaves add welcome flavor to salads. Older leaves can be cooked with other greens to add a tangy, lemony flavor.
Spinach – A standard used frequently in recipes and available year-round. Good raw or cooked and may be substituted for many other greens in recipes, especially where color is important. Cooks more quickly than tougher greens like beet, kale, chard and collards, so adjust cooking times accordingly,
Swiss Chard – This colorful delight tastes like tender beet greens. Called ‘Bright Lights’, because of the rainbow of colors the stems offer – maybe because of the colors, the stems are a lot tougher than the leaves and should be cooked long before the leaves are added. Swiss chard leaves can be used with or instead of spinach or beet greens (in most recipes).
Turnip Greens – These are very easy to cook with a slightly spicy taste. Turnip greens are regularly cooked with kale, Swiss chard or beet greens.
When harvesting your salad greens, do not remove the whole plant. It is best to remove only the outer leaves – only as needed. The growing plants will continue to produce fresh, new inner leaves.
Greens are extremely low in fat and calories and a full cup has a mere 25 calories. Get a good supply of vitamin A vitamin C, calcium, iron, potassium, folic acid and fiber. Studies show that greens may even protect the body against certain types of cancer.
When greens are bought in from the garden, they are filled with dirt and pests. To clean them thoroughly, it will take a lot of washing. Fill a large sink with cold water and add the greens and let them sit for five minutes. Wash greens by swishing them and repeatedly lifting them from water – for several minutes. Place greens in a container and drain water and dirt.
Repeat the process. Repeat for a third time, until the water is completely clean of any debris. Rinse and repeat. It is very important to remove all dirt to avoid biting down on rocks during the meal.
These are some of the most popular Winter greens. Growing a batch (or two) is easy and it will provide you with a healthy supply of vitamins and minerals.