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Tips to Growing and Preparing Gourmet Salad Greens

Great salads are more than just lettuce but the addition of complex flavors of salad greens. Flavors can range from spicy to nutty depending on what you grow. With so many flavors to choose from why not grow some of each? Watch our Growing Gourmet Salad Greens video to learn more about growing greens and using them in the kitchen.

Planting Your Greens Seeds

To plant your gourmet greens you can either plant them in rows or you can broadcast.
  • They don't like to be planted too deep so follow the planting depth instruction on the seed pack.
  • Cover with soil and make sure they are watered well.
  • Once they sprout and have their first set of true leaves, thin to a few inches apart.
  • Keep thinning as the plants grow by harvesting the baby greens until you have spacing of 12 inches between plants.
  • Be sure your greens get regular watering throughout their life. Letting them dry out between watering is going to make for very bitter greens.
  • You can grow and harvest these cold hardy veggies all winter long by providing them with protection from harsh frost such as with floating row covers or grow in a cold frame.
  • On larger greens, harvest the older leaves, working your way up the plant.
  • Plant your seeds every couple of weeks for a continuous harvest.

Using Different Types of Greens

  • Mache is a French green and it's also called Corn Salad or Lamb's Lettuce. It grows everywhere and is a staple in northern France. It pairs well with butter lettuce and some other small baby greens and tastes great with a little vinaigrette.
  • Mizuna is a type of mustard that is mild and sweet as well as adding an attractive flair to salads. It can be mixed with baby lettuces or served by itself and it is versatile for accompanying flavors from savory roasted beets, to sweet cucumbers and feta. It grows very well as a cut and come again crop.
  • Escarole, also called Batavian Endive, is in the chicory family and it's got a bitter flavor. It's great when paired up with pears and a little bit of blue cheese.
  • Cress comes in several types including water cress, wrinkled cress and upland cress. They all have a peppery flavor and crisp texture. Mix them with a mild lettuce and a creamy dressing.
  • Arugula, also known as rocket, is a green with a very nutty and peppery flavor and it's really good with a vinaigrette that has either plum, raspberry or mango in it and then topped off with some assertive cheese. The flowers are edible and add nice color to a salad.
  • Mustard greens such as Giant Red, Tendergreen or Southern Giant Curled are full flavored and zesty. Their bold flavor calls for mild and crunchy romaine or chard and a simple dressing. Try topping this assertive salad mixed with sweet fruits such as sliced pears. It is best when harvested young up to six inches tall.
  • Sorrel is sometimes referred to as "lemonade in a leaf" due to its citrus flavor. Pick it when it is young and tender and enjoy tossed with goat cheese and dressed with a honey vinaigrette.
For some ideas on making vinaigrettes, read our article Basic French Vinaigrette Salad Dressing with Variations So grow some greens make a healthy salad or stir-fry and grow organic for life!

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