Sow seeds for luscious leafy greens next week – Wednesday 22nd November 2017 and Thursday 23rd [here in New Zealand].
We are moving into warmer times as summer arrives. Leafy greens are best in semi-shade now as they bolt to seed in strong sun. And they need constant moisture to stay tender so keep a watch on soil moisture around them [I poke a finger into the soil and feel if its moist or not].
It’s good to sow new batches often so there are more growing leaves when previous crops are making flowers and seeds instead.
I will sow seeds throughout the week of
- Lettuce – I’ll sow a number of varieties so hopefully some will do well no matter what the weather does this year – hot/dry/cold/wet.
- Silver-beet [including rainbow chard/ bright light beets – the ones with vibrant colored stems – so stunning to see in a garden]
- Rocket [Arugula]
- Asian greens – maybe mizuna.
- New Zealand Spinach – ours is self-seeding so I’ll look see if there are little, new ones growing. It’s OK cooked [needs 2 changes of boiling water to draw out and minimize the oxalic acid content – in the same way that adult forms of true spinach and silver-beet also need]
- Hot-climate ‘greens’ including:
Magenta Spreen [Chenopodium giganteum] – see Wikipedia for more info
Amaranth [we like Mekong Red = Amaranthus tricolor] – see Wikipedia for more info
Orach [Atriplex hortensis] – see Wikipedia for more info
All grow more strongly in warmer weather than do lettuce or silver-beet. Most also grow far taller than lettuce. Do some research. Have a go with something different too.
Summer is a challenging time to have traditional leafy greens grow well – they much prefer cooler weather.
Grow hot-climate greens instead now.
When the weather warms up lettuce etc bolt to seed fast and produce fewer leaves which easily go bitter. When stressed, they stop making leaves and make flowers and seeds instead.
To encourage leafy greens to grow leaves instead of bolting to seed,
- keep them well-watered
- Keep the soil moist and the leaves dry – a challenge for us! When the leaves stay wet they can go slimy or grow rust – not nice.
- If you water from above, check the sun won’t shine onto the leaves while wet as the droplets focus the sun’s rays and can burn tender leaves.
- give the plants filtered shade from hot sun – either by taller plants or by shade cloth coverings.
- Check them daily [especially lettuce with its small, shallow root system]
- pick individual leaves for salads and cooked greens
- sow/plant a new batch each week for a continuous supply so we have some growing well even when previous lots are going to seed.
This is a time when I grow excess plants as some will be growing leaves when others are bolting – its all just the cycle of the plant’s life and I work with it as much as possible.
We usually manage to have greens available each day – often heaps! So nice.
Best wishes and enjoy the warm weather in your garden!