dandelion greens (leaves), bok choy, and spinach.)
Here's why you should include leafy greens in your garden this spring:
1. They are among the easiest edibles to grow. So much so, they are perfect for beginners. Start your seeds by the winter sowing method, or indoors. (For details on how to do this, download my FREE ebook Starting Seeds.) Most greens germinate very quickly. (An exception to the easy-to-grow label is spinach, which are is a bit more persnickety than most other leafy greens.)
3. They don't mind a little shade. If sunny spots are at a premium in your garden, it's nice to know you can give your greens a bit of shade. For the most productive greens, aim for 4 to 6 hours of sun a day, at least.
4. They keep on giving. Some vegetables can only be harvested once (like carrots or corn). But greens keep producing edible leaves over and over again. Just leave three central leaves every time you harvest.
5. They are super healthy. According to the USDA, we should all eat at at least three or four servings of dark, leafy greens every day. That's because leafy greens are packed with fiber, antioxidants, folate, vitamins, and minerals. Studies show that a diet rich in leafy greens reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
7. Store bought greens are likely pesticide-laden. This amazes me, because I find greens so easy to grow by organic means, but nonetheless, it's true.
How do you eat leafy greens? Most of us know how to eat lettuce, but most other greens are best cooked. (In fact, a light cooking often releases more of the nutrients in leafy greens, making them healthier cooked than raw.) Try:
* Sauteing greens in a little garlic and olive oil. (Find detailed information on this technique here.)
* Adding then to soups.
* Use them to stuff chicken or pork.
* Adding them to a scramble, hash, or omelet.
* Turning them into chips. This works for most leafy greens (not lettuce); just spray with olive oil, season, and dry slowly in the oven or in a dehydrator.
* Turning them into pesto.
* Adding them to lasagna.
* Adding them to stir frys,
For dark, leafy green recipes, be sure to check out my eating seasonally cookbook, A Vegetable for Every Season. All the photos in this post are from the cookbook.