“Leafy greens” is a generic term for a wide variety of vegetables. Depending on how you’re planning to grow, store and cook them, there are things to consider as you look to put the best leafy greens in your garden.
For one thing, you need to know the most popular and easy-to-grow leafy greens in North America. From this list you’ll be able to pick what’s right for you.
Cabbage has a leafy exterior and dense, compact central “head.” It can be prepared in a number of ways. Chopped raw cabbage is used for cole slaw. Cooked versions exist as a side dish in many cultures. What we know as sauerkraut is pickled cabbage. Radicchio, or red cabbage, is usually seen in the United States as a salad ingredient.
Kale, mustard greens and collard greens
While a lot like cabbage, kale, mustard greens and collard greens are best grouped together in this conversation on the best leafy greens for your garden. Cooked kale has become the go-to leafy green on the restaurant scene in recent years, showing up on menus across the country. Kale, mustard and collards all are best harvested after a frost, which tempers their bitterness. All three are part of many ethnic and regional cooking traditions. Mustard and collard greens are still very popular in the South. Just remember the density of all of these veggies reduce significantly during cooking. You’ll need to harvest quite a bit to provide enough as a side dish for a family of four.
Of the other varieties that fall under “leafy greens,” lettuces are the most abundant. Iceberg lettuce, while short on flavor, remains a popular choice for gardeners. More complex varieties include arugula, butterhead lettuce, chard, chicory, escarole, green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce and romaine.
Finally, spinach is a tried and true member of the leafy greens club, offering both high nutritional value and versatility in the kitchen. Fresh spinach translates well as part of a salad (holding up in storage far longer than lettuces), as well as sautéed or as an ingredient in other dishes. Also, the same quantity considerations for kale, mustard greens and collard greens hold true for spinach – you’ll need a lot to feed a few.
So there you go. A list of the best leafy greens for your garden. You have the list, now it’s up to you to choose what goes in the ground.