Sow seeds for leafy greens during the week from Thursday 1st December 2016. Best days are Friday 2nd, Saturday 3rd and Wednesday 7th [here in New Zealand]
In Auckland the weather has got warmer and the ground has been drying out. These are challenging conditions to grow lush greens of lettuce and silver-beet.
They bolt to seed rather than make leaves [see the top photo, on the right? The red-stemmed beets loooong stalk – gone to seed].
Or diseases can grow quickly. Lettuces, deep inside the head of leaves, go to mush. Silver-beet shows rusts and molds.
Grow hot-climate greens as well/instead.
I’m an optimist so will sow seeds throughout the week of
Lettuce– a number of varieties of non-heading types, so hopefully some will do well – you never know!
Silver-beet [including rainbow chard/ bright light beets – the ones with vibrant colored stems – so stunning to see in a garden] Ever hopeful.
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.
Red Orach seedling
Magenta Spreen seedling
This is a challenging time to have traditional leafy greens grow well – they much prefer cooler weather.
Grow hot-climate greens instead now.
PS. To encourage greens to grow leaves instead of bolting to seed, keep them well-watered and give them shade from hot sun – either by taller plants or by shade cloth coverings. Check them daily [especially lettuce with its small, shallow root system] and pick individual leaves for salads and cooked greens.
How to build a ‘Heather’s Lettuce Wrap’ – delicious!!!
Start by assembling your favorite salad foods. Here, I use cheese, olives, gherkins, cucumber, tomato, sprouts, wild greens. Find your favorite sticky stuff to smooth onto each lettuce leaf to hold the rest on.
components of a lettuce wrap
Start making a lettuce wrap with some peanut butter holding on favorite salad stuff
Keep adding to the lettuce wrap
Lettuce wrap with wild greens [Herb Robert, parsley, endive]
A sprouty lettuce wrap with miners lettuce on top too
Lettuce wrap with chickweed, plantain and endive too
Create your unique, favorite wrap with just what you like. Mine is held on here with smooth peanut butter – works well!
Mayo works well too. Or other nut butters, or hummus, or other dips. [Lettuce wrap around a dip by itself is pretty delicious too – and is very quick. Depends on how hungry I am!]
I like the sweetness of peanut butter with the tangy wild greens, pickled gherkins and salty olives.
Some of us prefer to replace the lettuce leaf wrap with bread.
The greens here include endive, plantain, chickweed, rocket, parsley, miners lettuce, Herb Robert.
Sow seeds for luscious, tender leafy greens this next week – Sunday 2nd October 2016 to Wednesday and Sunday 8th too [here in New Zealand]
In Auckland the weather has been wet, wet, wet! 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]
Mustard greens, or the giant red mustard is pretty nice early in the season before the heat of summer adds too much pepper bite and it goes to seed rather than make tender leaves. It’s an eye-catcher in the garden.
Asian greens [assorted] – here they grow well in the cooler months – they grow so fast!
Endive We grow 2 types – a broader leaf variety and a lovely fine, frilly variety. They are lovely and tender in cooler months so we enjoy them now. Both grow more slowly than lettuce.
This is a great time to have leafy greens grow well – they love cooler, wetter times.
Later, when the weather warms up they bolt to seed fast and produce fewer leaves which easily go bitter.
Enjoy delightful salads with a range of leaf types in these cooler, wetter months.
What to look out for when buying seedlings for your garden:
vibrant small versions of the plant
Avoid seedlings if they have grown loooong and tall like these – follow the stem from the bottom of the picture way up to the flowers up on the 2nd shelf in the shop – this will not give edible parts to eat!
look for Look for dense groups of leaves – ‘leggy’ seedlings are best left in the shop.
check roots are in the pot – if they form a mat below the pot they are best left as these roots will need to be cut off to plant the seedling – which will decrease its ability to take up nutrients. Find a pot where the tiny roots are just visible at the base if there are any to choose from.
Wilted seedlings bolt to seed early – look around the nursery – are all plants well watered or not? Be wary if the nursery doesn’t care well for their plants.
Wise choices in purchasing seedlings will provide strong, quality plants for your garden to feed you for a long time. Or – grow your own! Then you can plant them at the best time so they grow abundantly and flourish for you.
Winter and our lunch is still mostly from our garden: lettuce (3 varieties), rocket, Mizuna, capsicum, tomato (golden /orange ‘Moonglow’, mandarin, dark red cherry guava; with olives being the only addition purchased. Add a favourite protein (cheese) and dressing for a lunch with zing.