If you have a home garden, you’ve probably grown lettuce, kale, spinach or chard. We tend to stick with what’s done well in the past, but this year why not try something new? Maybe you’re curious about some other varieties but weren’t sure of their taste or if they’re easy to grow. Either way, if you haven’t ordered your seeds yet, don’t fret. Go online and check out what’s new to you. We’ll give you a great list of organic seed companies at the bottom of the page.
Love spinach? Then you’ll love tat soi. (pronounced tot soy) If you’ve eaten stir-fry, you’ve had tat soi. Grow this Asian green yourself; it’s not likely to be found at the local grocery or farmer’s market. It’s super easy to grow and goes from seed to plate in 21 days for baby leaves, 45 for full size bunches. Tat soi is tender enough for fresh salads or add it to soups at the end of cooking. Use it just like spinach. A quick sauté with garlic is the fave at our house. Loaded with calcium, iron and other vital minerals, tat soi also has more Vitamin C than one orange and 200% daily requirement of Vitamin A. Can’t go wrong with this one.
What exactly are microgreens? They’re simply the tiny leaves of any salad green, herb or leafy vegetable. Showing up in fine dining restaurants, chefs love them for salads and decorative garnishes. The tiny microgreens pack a nutrition punch too. Because you harvest them at 1-4 inches tall, all the vitamins they need to grow are right there. Interestingly, they’re more nutritious than the mature plant. Microgreens can fetch $30 per pound, so growing them yourself makes great sense. They’re easy to grow inside or out. All you need are seeds, organic soil, and a shallow container. Scatter your seeds and cover lightly with an 1/8 inch of soil. Water gently, never letting the soil dry out, and place in four hours of sun. When four true leaves appear, snip off the tiny stems at the soil base. Because they grow so quickly, you can keep planting seeds for year round greens.
This mild spicy green deserves a spot in your garden. It flourishes well in container pots and its “cut and come again” personality assures greens all season long. Arugula likes semi-shade and cooler temps, and keeping the soil evenly moist will prevent bolting. If flowers spike from your plants, they’re edible too. You can be eating baby greens 21 days after germination or 40 days for larger leaves. Toss a handful of arugula with microgreens, radicchio and an olive oil dressing for a great salad. Make a quick pesto or add arugula to your favorite pasta. Packed with vitamins A, K and C and vital minerals, easy to grow arugula will become a regular in your garden.
Whether you choose Russian, Tuscan or one of the curly leaf varieties, kale reigns supreme among the superfoods of vegetables. Keep it in your repertoire; one cup will provide you with 684% of Vitamin K, 206% of Vitamin A, healthy omega fatty acids and tons of anti-inflammatory properties. I could go on boasting its nutrients, but you get it. If you’re ready for a new kale, try White or Red Russian. They’re both tender enough to be eaten raw and work great in salads, shakes or smoothies. Kale does well in containers or in garden beds. If you grew them last season in a raised bed and didn’t yank the stems in the fall, don’t be surprised to see them growing new leaves this season.
When we think of beets, we think about the red part growing underground, but what about the green leaves adorning the top? Many people cut these and discard but it’s really the most nutritious part of the plant. Similar in taste to swiss chard, beet greens are loaded with Vitamins A, C and K and are an excellent source of magnesium and calcium. Use the greens as you would spinach or other greens by adding to salads or give them a quick sautee with oil and garlic.
All of these greens can be eaten raw or slightly wilted or sautéed. Less cooking time assures the most nutrients. Browse an organic seed catalog or go online and expand your vegetable horizon.