Greens to Grow at Home

By Kim Thistle

There are so many things that grow here on the Rock that are not well known but so easy to grow. Spinach, lettuce and turnip tops seem to be our go-to greens, but there are many other options that thrive in the cold, in the heat of summer, or can be grown inside under lights during the winter months. Let’s look at a few.

If you like the heat of wasabi or horseradish, you will love mustard greens. Although it is not nearly as intense, it still has that bite that will tingle your taste buds. Mustard can be sown outdoors before the last frost. It tolerates the cold and will survive a frosty night, which sweetens the flavour. Mustards tend to bolt (see sidebar for definition) in the summer heat, so they should be grown early in the season or planted again in early to mid-August for late-season harvest. These greens can be harvested and eaten as “baby greens” within about 20 days from planting or grown to maturity, but be sure to harvest before they go to seed. Young greens are delicious in salads, whereas older greens are best cooked in stir fries or added to soups. A large bag of mustard greens dwindles to only a few servings when cooked, so be sure to grow plenty.

This Asian green is part of the brassica (broccoli) family, like mustard. It tastes a bit like broccoli with an edge and is slightly pungent. Mizuna has a fast turnaround time and is ready for salads in about 20 days. A full head will form in about 40 days. It is delicious as a salad green but can be grown to maturity and eaten like mustard. Branch out and try it on pizzas or pasta. This green is ridiculously easy to grow and is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants, so why wouldn’t you try it?

The closest comparison I can make is that this green is similar to bok choy, but tastier. Instead of growing as a head, it looks more like a flattened rosette. It is another brassica that can be harvested in as little as 20 days. This green is similar to spinach and is excellent in salads. Leave it to grow on for another 20 days and you’ll be treated with an attractive head of delicious, crisp greens that can be eaten raw or cooked. Like mustard, this vegetable likes cool weather and should be seeded early in the season or after the summer heat. Bolting will occur when the weather turns hot.

A delicious tender green, mache (or corn salad) is very similar to butterhead lettuce. If you have been to France, you have most certainly enjoyed the delicate green in a salad, as it is a food staple in that country. Like the others in this article, this seed is directly sown in early spring or late summer. Soil temperature should be about 10 degrees for best germination. That is tricky in Newfoundland, so you can try warming soil with a black landscape fabric early in the season, giving you the warmer soil temperature but cooler growing conditions this crop needs. It can also be sown early in August for a fall harvest. If the summer is like this past 2022 season, with unusually warm soil, consider placing a board or reflective material over the planting area for a few days to cool the area. Mache takes about 40-70 days to harvest, so it is more like lettuce than the other greens mentioned above. Unlike other Asian greens, I do not find it desirable as a cooked green, but it makes a delicious salad additive. It can also be wilted and served as a side dish.

These greens are all packed with nutrients and antioxidants. They are easy to grow, and you can harvest several crops throughout the season, making good use of your plot if space is at a premium. These greens are also ideal if you want to grow during winter under grow lights. Since we live in a harsh climate where food is challenging to grow, let’s work with what we have and try some varieties that are new to us.

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Downhome Magazine

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