Lettuce leads the way among garden-grown greens and few vegetables are as easy to grow in the cool weather of spring and fall. Instead of trying to grow hard-headed iceberg types, fill your garden with the unusual colors and leaf textures found in loose-head selections, often called leaf lettuce. Stiff-ribbed Romaine lettuces are not difficult to grow either, though they do take longer to mature than leafier types. Any type of lettuce can be pulled when young and served as “baby” greens in salads.
Many of the plants best known as cooking greens include mustard, chard, turnips, spinach, and Asian specialties like mizuna. These add zip to salads provided they are picked when the leaves are young and tender. They can be cooked at any age.
Regardless of their species and use, all leafy vegetables have a common need for water. Dry soil stops new growth and can stress the plants sufficiently to ruin their flavor and force them into flower.
FERTILIZING LEAFY GREENS
Leafy greens are easy to please. Before planting the seeds, work a Vegetable Food containing timed-release fertilizer into the soil. Because leafy greens often need more water than other crops, it is important to use a fertilizer that will not readily wash away.
Most leafy greens need no further fertilizing. However, if you live where winters are mild and you grow spinach or chard from fall until spring, lightly fertilize the plants near winter’s end to give them ample nutrients to make a last surge of new growth.
Sow seeds 1/2 inch apart; gradually thin to 6 to 8 inches apart; set transplants 8 inches apart
Some selections tolerate frost; cool-weather vegetables. Mix several selections together for a rainbow of colors and textures in the same bed or row.
OTHER SALAD GREENS
Sow seeds 1 inch apart; gradually thin to 6 to 8 inches apart; set transplants 8 inches apart. Some selections tolerate frost; cool-weather vegetablesGrow only in cool weather; hot temperatures cause the flavor to become overly hot and peppery.