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Leafy Greens

ARUGULA

Eruca sativa

Description:

Deeply lobed leaves with creamy white flowers. Rich in vitamin C and potassium. Has a rich, peppery taste and has an exceptionally strong flavor for a leafy green.

Harvest Tips:

Cut off young leaves when they're 2-3 inches long. Handpick individual leaves to extend the harvest, or pull up the entire plant.

Uses:

Generally used in salads, but is also cooked as a vegetable or used raw with pasta or meats. 

COLLARD GREENS

Brassica oleracea acephala cv.

Description:

Plant plenty of collards because even an armload of these greens will cook down to just a few servings. Collards are closely related to cabbage. Collard stalks and leaves are tough and best eaten cooked. For a summer crop, sow seeds four weeks before the last frost date. For a fall crop, sow three months before the first fall frost.

Harvest Tips:

Pick leaves as needed, harvesting the outer leaves first. Leave the central bud or growing point intact so the plant will continue to produce new leaves. Collards withstand moderate frosts, but a hard freeze may damage the leaves. At the end of the growing season you can harvest the whole plant at once.

Uses:

A staple of bountiful Southern tables, this delightful green is usually "cooked down" with bacon or ham, sometimes by itself and sometimes with an assortment of other greens. It's also great to chop or shred and add to Southern-inspired soups, such as a ham-based or black-eyed pea soup. Tear the leaves off the stems and shred them by hand before sautéing them or adding them to soups or stews.

KALE

Brassica oleracea acephala cv.

Description:

Kale is an excellent nutrient-rich green vegetable. Unlike so many other greens, kale keeps much of its shape even when cooked, adding texture to dishes. Leaves may be blue-green, green, or burgundy in color and ruffled, curly, deeply cut, or flat in form.

Harvest Tips:

Pick baby greens 20-30 days after seeding. Harvest mature leaves 30-40 days later. To keep a plant producing, harvest the outer leaves and allow the center to continue to grow. The tender central leaves are best for salads. Cook the larger, older leaves. Leaves will have their best flavor when growing conditions are cool and frosty.

Uses:

Salads, stir-fries, steamed vegetable dishes, soups, and stews.

LETTUCE

Lactuca sativa cv.

Description:

If you want to reduce your supermarket bill and also improve the quality of your salads, grow lettuce -- and grow it in variety. With very little space, you'll have a steady supply of wonderful salads from earliest spring until past frost. You'll have only a short hiatus in the hottest parts of summer, when this cool-season vegetable stops producing. Lettuce comes in four basic types: crisphead, butterhead, loose-leaf, and romaine. Crisphead types are also called iceberg or Batavian lettuce. Butterhead lettuces form smaller, looser heads. Loose-leaf lettuce has an open growth pattern and doesn't form a head. Romaine or cos lettuce forms upright, cylindrical heads.

Harvest Tips:

Begin picking outer leaves of butterhead, loose-leaf, and romaine lettuce varieties when they are 2 inches long. Continue to harvest outer leaves as long as the flavor remains good. You can also cut the entire plant at the base when it reaches the desired size. Extend the harvest season by sowing small patches of lettuce every three weeks until late spring, then again in late summer for fall harvest.

Uses:

Make delicious salads, put on sandwiches, breadless wraps

SPINACH

Spinacia oleracea cv.

Description:

Tender young spinach, picked fresh from the garden, has no equal -- certainly not in the supermarket. You might not even recognize them as spinach! The nutritious leaves of spinach are loaded with iron, calcium, protein, and vitamin A. Plant this cool-season crop in early spring or late summer.

Harvest Tips:

Begin harvesting individual leaves 20 to 30 days after sowing for use as baby greens. Continue harvesting leaves until hot weather forces seed stalks to form. Harvest whole plants 35 to 50 days after seeding by pulling or cutting at the soil line.

Uses:

Use them fresh in salads. As the leaves get larger as the season progresses, cook them lightly by steaming or sautéing just for a moment in olive oil with garlic.

SWISS CHARD

Beta vulgaris cicla cv.

Description:

If you're tired of the same old vegetable side dishes, grow Swiss chard. Swiss chard is an attractive plant, and the newer "rainbow" Swiss chards available are very striking -- and still taste great. You can even include them in a flowerbed! Although flavor is best in cool weather, chard tolerates the heat of summer quite well.

Harvest Tips:

Begin harvesting chard by removing outer leaves when they reach 6 inches tall, and continue harvesting throughout the summer. Plants tolerate light frosts, so you can continue harvesting late into autumn.

Uses:

You'll find dozens of different ways to serve it. The classic preparation is to lightly sauté; it in olive oil and garlic. But also use its greens raw in salads. Or sliver the leaves and stems and had several handfuls to a pot of soup.

 

Need some ideas on what to do with your garden goodies? Check out our Pinterest page:

Meadows Farms