My Favorite Mixed Greens to Grow for Salads
Hello! This is a post that I have been waiting all winter to share. The months where we were waiting and waiting and waiting some more for the garden to be planted were difficult to say the least. I spent a lot of time planning and plotting the types of things I wanted to share on this space once the time rolled around. I am finding this season particularly hard to capture because I am so deep into working it over sharing it. Which is good for myself! I like being outside all day and really working. While my garden last year was beautiful and rewarding, I don't feel like I really worked hard in it at all. Yes, I weeded and hand picked insects every single night. But it would take me less than two hours to cover the entire garden! I can't even imagine that right now. It takes me two hours to weed an entire bed... and I have over 60 of those!
One of the posts that I was hoping to share were little profiles on the varieties of vegetables we are growing. There is a lot! If you missed my post about our plot plan, you should definitely check it out to see an overview of what we are growing. Amongst all of those beds are a mix of varieties and cultivars that are diverse and delicious.
The season we are currently in is greens, greens, and more greens! Our field is filled with delicious, lush greens ready to be cut and devoured. Just today I was out looking at all of the heads of lettuce and thanking the stars that they will be big and beautiful for our CSA members. Yay for lettuce! Here's crossing our fingers that nothing bolts. That would stink!
Here's what we are growing this year and what I am loving about each:
- DARKIBOR KALE. This stuff takes off! I have had this kale planted since February, so it was no surprise that it was ready to harvest a couple of weeks back. The leaves are insane! They are still young, and I can already tell that they will soon be ginormous. While I am not quite sure yet if kale is at all a popular sell in Iowa (so far, not yet! and that's okay. it's something to learn) I am having a lot of fun growing this particular variety. It's similar to Winterbor, though the leaves are a bit more complex and tightly curled. It's called the best variety for making kale chips as it crisps up extremely well and have so many tiny folds within the leaves that can trap seasoning! I will be freezing a lot of this for smoothies and soups over winter.
- ASTRO ARUGULA. Arugula! I don't know about you, but I can grow arugula anywhere. It grows almost like a weed. I love it for that. More arugula, please! This particular variety I like a lot better than what I grew last year. It's less bitter and has a sweeter taste to it. Plus I think freshly picked arugula always smells like bacon. Is that weird? It's delicious in both the baby stage and mature. You'll love tossing it in your salad!
- NEW RED FIRE LETTUCE. Super delicate and ruffly. I love how this looks growing. Cut wise it's not super fun to harvest as the leaves fall off super easily. But that's okay! Because it makes a great addition to sandwiches, burgers, and salads. If you don't care about the hardiness of the head, then grow this one just for leaf lettuce. It makes a really great baby salad mix cutting, which you can use the cut-and-come-again method for.
- RED CROSS LETTUCE. A sturdier red leaf lettuce. You'll like this one if you want a beautiful head of lettuce for your table. I am not always a huge fan of red lettuces because they can be bitter. This one has good flavor if you are a lover of the darker leaf varieties!
- DRAGOON LETTUCE. A romaine to love. Not as sturdy as #8, which I like better. But it's still good! It's a slow grower so far.
- LACINATO KALE. Beautiful! This variety of kale is just stunning. I am still not sure how to use it. I actually don't love it in salad, but I felt that it needed to be listed here. I can imagine that it would make really cool kale chips and maybe a good replacement for bread in sandwiches and wraps.
- BLOOMSDALE SPINACH. My all time favorite spinach variety to grow! It always does so well in the heat and resists bolting better than others I have tried. We are actually just beginning to bolt with ours that were planted in April, and I have a new set sprouting right now. It is a delicious tasting leaf in the baby stage and matured. I love how ginormous the leaves can get if you let them grow! You can just pick, pick, pick from this variety and it never falters. Love it!
- PARRIS ISLAND COS ROMAINE LETTUCE. This romaine is delicious! It's so crispy and crunchy. I love a good head of romaine! It's not ruffly, which I also enjoy in a romaine, but more smooth. If you like a buttercrunch type of romaine, then you'll love this one.
- BUTTERHEAD BUTTERCRUNCH (Botanical Interests). You can see the huge difference in the two butterheads from the different seed companies! This one is longer and thinner. I would like it for topping a burger or something like that. Too much lettuce on a sandwich is never my cup of tea. But I like the crunch!
- BUTTERHEAD BUTTERCRUNCH (Johnny's Selected Seeds). I love how cute and tiny this one is! You will love tossing the leaves of this in a mixed salad. Yum!
- BEET GREENS. This was something I was unsure about until I bought the Power Greens salad from Costco over the winter. That mix is filled with beet greens! Apparently it's a thing. What I loved was that they had a similar texture to spinach (which I love) but were almost sweet and more flavorful. We have been selling bags of beet greens at the farmer's market! It's a really a cool and sustainable way to use the thinnings. Add some to your next salad!
- TENDERGREEN MUSTARD. I was not expecting to grow this, but I am so glad that I did! The leaves grow so quickly and are nice and lush for salads. They can get large easily so if you are wanting the baby version make sure that you pick them fast. The way this plant grows is similar to spinach, where you can simply pick leaves from around the outer edge rather than snip the entire plant off.
- ENCORE SALAD MIX. I love a good salad mix! This one is a great mix of sweet lettuce leaves and bitter spring greens. Salad mix has been my revelation this year. I did not know I needed it in my life! I was always a head lettuce kind of girl. You just sprinkle a hefty batch of seed all over your bed, rake it in, and watch it grow. Then cut a week or sow after it germinates, come back in two weeks, and cut again! How great is that?
And there you have it! All of the greens we are currently growing in the garden. I love a nice blended salad, don't you? Nothing better than some flavorful, crunchy leaves. What are your favorite types of greens for salads or your favorite varieties? I'd love to learn about what you like!