We try to only eat in season and eat only what we grow, so we have been without leafy greens for quite some time. We are excited it is that time of year again to plant and enjoy lettuce, spinach, kale, collards, and chard! If you haven’t started planting, it isn’t too late! Since daylight hours are shorter in winter, your seeds should be planted in an area that receives full sunlight. Leafy greens tolerate our mild winters well and will grow through the winter and spring until it becomes too hot for them.
From our experience, leaf lettuce varieties tend to grow better than head lettuce. Head lettuce, such as Romaine, will grow leaves but doesn’t form a head before it gets too hot. Varieties we are currently growing include Little Gem, Yugoslavian Red, Buttercrunch, and EZ Serve. In order to have lettuce in the summer months, we will plant heat tolerant varieties in the spring. These include Black Seeded Simpson, Little Caesar, Matchless, Salad Bowl, Lollo Rossa, and Royal Oak Leaf. Our favorite spinach variety is Bloomsdale Longstanding. It is an heirloom variety that produces large, wavy leaves that are very tasty. We are also currently growing Rainbow Chard, Dwarf Blue Kale, and Georgia Collards.
Leafy greens are best enjoyed fresh, but some can be preserved. Spinach, kale, collards, and chard can all be chopped, steamed and frozen in plastic bags. We use our frozen greens in soup, quiche, pasta, or any recipe that calls for them cooked. If a recipe calls for the frozen greens to be pressed to get all the water out, try using a potato ricer. This works great at getting the liquid out!
Homemade dressing to put on your fresh picked lettuce is easy to make, tastes better than store bought, and is inexpensive to make! Our favorites are Cilantro Lime Dressing and Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette.