Successful Veg Garden Day 19

I’m getting pretty tired of writing about vegetables–don’t think I’ll even mention the word until this time next year. You must be getting enough of it as well!

Never worry, only three days of Boot Camp left–I guess we know why they used that analogy for these lessons. Today’s topic: Growing Greens.

Now I admit, I don’t love salad greens. I sort of have to force myself to eat them, because my favourite use is in sandwiches, but then I only use a few leaves of greens, and a lot of other, often calorific, sandwich fixings. But I always hope “I’ll do better next time”, so here I am, growing greens again.

Here’s some great things about growing greens:

1. They tolerate lower light levels. You can plant them in an already slightly shady (still getting a few hours of direct sun) areas, or in the shade of plants that will grow tall in mid-summer–like your tomatoes, potatoes, peppers.

2. They’re often quite decorative so they’ll do well in your ornamental garden. As you harvest the outer leaves, (leaving the centre to continue producing), you’ll want to have other plants growing around to hide the bare stem. Annual Alyssum is brilliant for that. Sow the flower seeds at the same time you sow the greens seeds or at the same time you transplant the seedlings. Ditto for candytuft (Iberis umbellata).

Iberis umbellata--annual candytuft.

Iberis umbellata–annual candytuft. And yes, you get multi-colours, and it self seeds like crazy–but in a good way. Like alyssum, very easy to thin.

3. Some greens are hard to keep growing through the hot days of summer, but collard greens and mustard greens will put up with a lot of heat. The other “green” I love to put in my sandwiches, and to a lesser extent in salads, is nasturtium leaves. They’re very like arugula in flavour, but with less bitterness, and thicker–more substantial. And nasturtiums are great additions to the vegetable garden, since not only are their leaves edible, but the flowers are sweet and peppery. Beautiful in a salad. They are said to be a great “companion” plant for the vegetable garden, altho’ I don’t care for one of it’s uses–as an aphid trap: the nasturtium attracts aphids drawing them away from other aphid-susceptible plants. However it’s my understanding that aphids (there are bazillions of species) are specific to the plant they are infesting, so the ones on the nasturtiums are not the ones that will attack cabbages, or roses, or daisies. One thing they definitely do do is attract pollinators, so planting them around plants that need pollination in order to produce fruit–toms, cukes, squash etc.–will be a very good thing.

Image courtesy of deeprootsathome.com

Nasturtiums growing with toms. Image courtesy of deeprootsathome.com

Two days left–herb garden and growing tomatoes. Stay tuned.

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