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The Top 4 Tips For Growing Your Greens At Home

Growing Your Greens

Growing your greens from home may sound like a challenge if you’ve never grown anything before but don’t let this deter you.

Greens have become fashionable in the past two decades. Not that they never were but with health and fitness becoming such a big issue in modern society, the message to eat more greens is loud and clear.

For those people with certain health issues, I recommend checking with your doctor before you start on a greens diet.

This is particularly the case for people on blood thinners. Eating leafy greens could interfere or cause a problem with how your medication interacts with your body. So check with your doctor.

For the rest of you, growing your own greens could become one of the wisest decisions you ever make.

That’s both for your wallet and for your health.

Growing Your Greens – What Are They?

Greens are the leaves of plants that grow in a vegetative state, such as lettuce and spinach.

They can be eaten raw or cooked.

The most common types of greens include arugula, bok choy, romaine lettuce, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, watercress, endive, Swiss chard just to name a few.

Kale
Greens are great in salads!

Greens is a term used to describe the leaves of plants that have not yet developed flowers or fruit, such as lettuce and spinach.

They are great in salads but they also make excellent cooked dishes like stir-fries and soups.

They contain lots of vitamins A, C and K which help keep our immune system strong.

How Do You Grow Greens At Home?

You don’t need any special equipment for growing greens – just a small plot of land or some growing pots if you intend growing them inside.

There are four main steps to growing your greens at home. In a nutshell, they are:

  • preparing your site
  • planting the greens
  • ongoing maintenance
  • harvesting

Sounds easy when I lay it out like that but really, this should be a breeze even if you have very little experience at growing anything.

Many people will say to me, “but JD, I don’t have a green thumb” and I usually respond with, “you don’t need one!”

The first thing you need to do is decide what you’re going to grow? Which leafy green vegetable takes your fancy? For me, it’s always spinach and kale first and then I decide if there’s anything else I want to add.

My parents were immigrant Italians to Australia and they brought their growing skills with them. They taught me from the age of five how to grow a vegetable garden. If a five year old can do it, then so can you!

4 Steps To Growing Your Greens – Preparing The Soil

The first step after you’ve decided what it is you want to grow is purchase your seeds.

Before you plant anything though, prepare your site. Best time for planting is early spring but check with the label if you are at a different time of the year.

You should know that greens like a soil that is well prepared and worked. That means adding plenty of organic goodness to the soil.

Depending on how big your garden bed is, add slow release fertilizer and make sure to mix it in well with the soil.

Your local garden center will have what you need maintenance-wise including the seeds but if you prefer, then there are plenty of options online starting with Amazon.

I always like to lightly water the soil and leave it for twenty four hours before planting.

Planting The Seeds

When I’m ready to plant, I create markers for the rows I create. This is for an outside garden bed. For an inside planter, a piece of string the length of a planter box will suffice.

You should be able to create at least two rows in a normal size planter.

Different varieties of seeds can vary when it comes to the depth your planting them at. I start at about half an inch and go deeper if the instructions say so. In an outside garden bed, the seeds should be one and a half to two and a half inches apart. In a planter box, about one to one and a half inches apart.

Once planted, lightly water the soil and then leave it for several hours.

Some gardeners will cover the soil with some type of cover but this can be expensive if you’re building or creating a proper rolling cover set up. I’ll leave this up to you but if your area is prone to frost, it may be worth the effort and expense.

For inside planters, this is not necessary.

Maintenance Of Your Growing Greens

The maintenance aspect can be fun. This is where the “rubber meets the road”. And this is where you’ll grow leaps and bounds as a home gardener.

Don’t complicate this. Just make sure the garden has adequate water.

Pests will be a problem, especially in an outside garden bed. Use organic pest control and pest resistant products to deter pests from your garden.

Make sure your garden is clear of weeds and it’s kept tidy. Natural ways to deter pests include planting some marigold, mint and nasturtium in your garden. There’s a host of plants that will deter or keep pests away. These three are a great start. Just be conservative when planting them.

When the greens are growing and some appear too close to each other, thin out the leaves by removing them from the bottom. Use a sharp pair of snips.

And as you head into summer, make sure the garden beds don’t dry out by keeping a regular watering routine going. Don’t go overboard with water, just enough to lightly saturate the ground.

It’s Harvest Time!

It’s time for your favorite part of growing your greens and that’s harvest time!

The great thing about greens is you don’t have to harvest them all at once. Leafy greens are such that you can use them several leaves at a time.

If they have gotten so big that they are starting to smother one another, instead of removing leaves from the outside in, it may be a good idea to simply remove a plant or a head.

How long will it take before the greens are ready to harvest?

That depends on which variety you’ve planted. A good “rule of thumb” is that it will take anywhere from six to twelve weeks for the greens to reach maturity and be ready to harvest.

The best time to eat them for flavor is early in the summer. 

Baby Spinach
It’s time to harvest your greens! 

Anything Else You Should Know About Growing Your Greens?

Greens have been around since ancient times. Some people believe they were first cultivated by monks who grew them on monasteries rooftops.

Others say it was Chinese farmers who first started growing greens because their ancestors believed eating this vegetable would aid digestion.

However, there is no doubt about the fact that today we eat a lot of different kinds of greens every day all over the world.

So what’s so good about eating your greens?

Let’s start with kale! It might seem like an odd choice for something healthy but it has many amazing properties.

This nutrient rich veggie is loaded with antioxidants that protect against inflammation in our bodies.

Kale is packed full of vitamins A, C, E, B6, folic acid, iron, calcium, fiber and magnesium. That means if you add some raw spinach leaves into your salad, you will be getting most of these same nutrients plus more potassium than from regular vegetables such as carrots or broccoli.

Kale also helps boost metabolism and fight cancer cells which makes it one of the best foods you could ever eat.

The green color comes from chlorophyll – the chemical responsible for turning sunlight energy into food through photosynthesis. In other words, just like plants use light energy to produce sugars while oxygen turns those sugars back into fuel cells.

When you eat veggies, you are essentially consuming this process that happens within plant life. Eating leafy greens gives you the chance to get more “green power” inside your body without even having to lift up a fork.

What does this mean?

You literally become “smarter & healthier”. And remember, before you decide to launch into an all greens diet, just check with your doctor first if you’re on certain medications.

JD Dean

Growing up on a farm gave me and my family some huge advantages. One of them was learning to grow our own food. Apart from acres and acres of crops, we had a magnificent fruit and vegetable garden plus, we canned our own food. I’m hoping to pass on some of this expertise and experience to you.

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