by the Madfarmer
To reinforce the name of this blog, I felt it only appropriate to use my first blog post to encourage and/or teach you how to grow your own fresh greens.
Fall is the perfect time for anyone to grow a small or large patch of greens just about anywhere. Do you have an empty spot in your flowerbed or some extra room around existing plants? Those are both perfect places to start. You could also use an empty flowerpot and may have good luck since the lettuce seeds won't have to compete with weeds.
Choose a spot that gets lots of sunlight even if it’s not full sun. They can tolerate a little shade especially now since it’s still rather hot.
Get a packet or two (or three or twenty) of your favorite greens' seeds. Right now in my garden I have Freckles Lettuce, Lolla Rosa Lettuce, Early Mizuna Mustard Greens, Bon Vivant Lettuce, Pak Choi, and Mache. Any variety should work. Choose the ones you like to eat. You now have two options: Broadcast the seeds over the area you have chosen to plant or start seeds in cells or peat pots for transplanting in a couple of weeks. (I do both.)
If you choose to broadcast your seeds, first add some compost to the planting site and mix it into the top couple of inches of soil. Take a pinch of seeds in your fingers and spread them across the area like you are salting your food. Cover lightly with about 1/8 inch of compost, water, and you’re done.
For seed starts, I always save those little plastic six-pack cells I get from the nursery when my wife buys flowers. They can easily be used over and over to start your seeds. Fill the cells (or small pots) with a soil-less seed starting mix and drop two or three small seeds in each cell. Cover with more of the soil-less mix and water. In a few days you should see sprouts. When they are about an inch tall they are ready to be transplanted to the growing site.
In Oklahoma our inaugural frost is typically around November 1st. Since we have approximately eight weeks until then, you should easily be able to harvest your greens before the freeze. Most greens can be harvested about an inch above the soil level and will grow into more fresh greens in a few weeks. Gardeners call this cut and come again. With a little TLC you can even grow them late into the fall by covering them from the frost. It isn't the cold temperatures that kill greens as much as the frost on the leaves. If you can cover your plants with a cloche (mason jar or milk jug turned upside down over your seedling) you can grow on into the winter with no problem. You could also fashion a small cold frame but instructions for that might wait for my next post.
Viva Fresh Greens!