Spring is just around the corner, but, in the hopes of nudging it in a little sooner, I have started some seeds earlier than usual. Because of this, I have some nice lettuce varieties thriving in the greenhouse. In about another week, I should be able to harvest enough right out of the seed tray to make a nice salad. Granted I don't have my own cukes or tomatoes, but who cares with those sweet tender green leaves staring up at me from the salad plate.
We can wait until March or April to start seeds and only grow summer veggies, but WHY???
Start seeds in January. Not warm weather veggies but cold weather veggies, like this Farmers Blend leaf lettuce in the photo above. As you can see by my photos, I simply broadcast sow my lettuce and leafy greens seeds in the tray that I have filled with seed starting soil. Because leaf lettuce and leafy greens do not need space to form heads like romaine lettuce or iceberg, they can be sprinkled over the soil and allowed to grow in the green house until 4 to 6 inches tall. When the night temps have stayed steady above freezing, they can be transplanted into raised beds and allowed to continue growing all spring.
This Oak Leaf lettuce is a great leafy lettuce that grows quickly and transplants easily into raised beds. I remove a 2-inch-square clump of seedlings with dirt intact around roots and plant into the raised bed. After they have set their roots, I thin the seedlings by pulling out a few of them, leaving others with some space between them. This gives me another salad of baby greens and the seedlings in the bed grow into large leaf lettuce.
Seen here is a leaf cabbage variety called Nero de Toscano. It is my first year growing this variety, and it is so delicious. I tried a baby leaf today and oh, my, gosh! YUM!
I sowed these in cell trays because they do grow into good size plants, but the cabbage is leaf type rather than head type. Its flavor is a sort of cabbage/kale taste but sweeter. This is used in soups, sauteed and mixed with pasta, but I want to use it in salads and make a leaf coleslaw out of it. You would treat this the same as lettuce. Allow to grow to 6 to 8 inches in the greenhouse and then transplant seedlings into your raised bed.
Greens are so healthy and flavorful when homegrown, and they couldn't be easier to raise. The more you pick the more they produce. There are varieties that are suited to cool spring temps and will die off in the heat of summer. There are some varieties that will produce in warmer summer temps if grown in part shade, like Iceberg, Romaine and Buttercrunch. The cold weather lettuces can be sown and grown again in early fall for fall and early winter harvest. So we can have salads almost year round from our own gardens. In winter you can grow lettuces in a small hoop house constructed over a raised bed.
Other greens that can be grown in similar fashion are spinach, kale, arugula and beet greens. So why wait the long wait for spring? Make spring POP at your house by sowing some hoop house, green house or even windowsill greens.
All of the varieties I have shown here are from my favorite seed company, Botanical Interests. Check their site out and get your leafy greens seeds soon.