Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day - Enjoy your Greens!

~ greenhouse jungle ~
  Happy Earth Day!
This year, it is a chilly spring day along the coast. The sun is shining, but the breeze is keeping things pretty cool & damp.

This is perfect weather for growing salad greens & today is a perfect day to gather a large harvest & allow the plants to continue to produce for a few more weeks.

I have a jungle in my greenhouse. Things have finally started to take off & will become a little too big in very short order. The blend I seeded in here last fall (late October) is a mustard blend - they do very well in cool damp weather (which is what my greenhouse is like in the winter due to all the holes in the plastic). I wasn't expecting to harvest the greens over the winter - I just wanted a head-start for fresh salads in the spring. It worked very well!

~ red oak leaf ~
 One of my greens are the oak leaf variety. They may not produce a tight head of crunchy leaves, but they are very nice & delicate. Perfect for pairing with other spring greens.

~ romaine & green oak leaf ~
I enjoy colour in my salad bowl, so I made sure I have a red leaf as well as the bright green leaf variety.

 In this blend is also some romaine lettuce which will provide the crunch that people so desire. When harvesting any of these, you can either select a few of the outer leaves or cut the whole head back. While they are still young, I like to select the outer leaves & let the plant continue to grow. As they get older, they will start to become a bit bitter, so then I will cut back the whole head & may be rewarded by regrowth a few weeks later. Or just till under the roots & plant something else.
~ mustard blend ~
 The large speckled leaves I have in profusion inside & outside the greenhouse are of a mustard blend. Nice & spicy. Not for every one's taste buds, but they grow so well out here! If you find the taste too sharp, make sure to mix in the other types of greens plus herbs to create a mix of flavours in your salad bowl. I like to chop my greens very fine so that there is a bit of everything on the fork - instead of a mouthful of spicy mustard!
~ arugula ~

Another plant I highly recommend for out here is wild arugula. It does so well & will come back for a few years. The leaves are a little bit more tough than your salad greens, but the flavour is amazing. Nutty & peppery. You won't need much in your salads but expand your repertoire & try mustard or arugula greens on your hamburgers. I like to turn abundant harvests of arugula into pesto that I keep in small jars in the freezer. That way I can use it through out the year (in the winter!) instead of using mayo or other condiments.

Now is the time of year to be eating & enjoying those fresh greens from the gardens - or even from your lawns - get out there & harvest some dandelion leaves for a tangy addition to the salads. Take revenge on those weeds - dandelion flowers also make pretty good fritters too!

Hope the spring sun is shining for you!

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