Create a salad with more than lettuce.
• Spinach grows quickly in cool spring weather. It has a tendency to bolt easily. Sow early and look for varieties labeled “long-standing,” such as Bloomsdale, Indian Summer and Giant Nobel. Like lettuce, spinach is a cut-and-come-again plant. You can eat it raw in salads or as a cooked vegetable.
• Swiss Chard is best served cooked, although its tiniest baby leaves taste good in spring salads. Direct sow seed in early spring or use transplants. You can enjoy these greens all season long.
• Kale (green or red) grows well, doesn’t bolt, and it is one of the most nourishing of greens. It is also simply beautiful, especially the red varieties such as Russian Red. Kale needs thorough cooking and is an ideal addition to puréed soups.
• Oriental greens have become favorites because they’re easy to grow and generally don’t bolt. When very young, eat them in salads; steam or stir-fry when mature. Plant Chinese cabbage, Pak-choi (bok choy) and Mizuma in the spring and enjoy these exotic greens all season.
• Mustard greens are fresh and piquant. You might like to grow a few plants to spice up your salad or add a bite to your cooked veggie dishes.
• Parsley grows from earliest spring right through fall, and it comes back the next spring for a spectacular rush of growth until it goes to seed. You can plant five or six pots of parsley when you start your lettuce. Handle it very gently when you put it into the garden, because it doesn’t like transplanting.
• French or Italian mesclun may include lettuces in addition to spicy salad greens such as escarole, arugula, treviso, chicory, lamb’s lettuce and radicchio. The bold flavors of some of these greens can be an acquired taste; give them a try to see if you like them.
• Collard greens are standard fare of the American South. They are typically cooked with meat and eaten together with cornbread or other panbread to soak up the juices. Both mustard greens and collards can be planted in very early spring.