Lettuce and other greens, such as kale, spinach and Swiss chard, are among the vegetables that grow well starting in early spring. Growing greens is easy and this weekend, with highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s, would be perfect for planting greens.
Greens don’t like weather that is too hot and most garden references say to plant seeds “as soon as the soil can be worked.” Since we can get a hard freeze well into May, I like to start some greens indoors under lights, then transplant them when the soil has warmed up just a bit. If a really cold night hits, you may want to top the transplants with a row cover, sheet or a cloche to keep them from getting nipped. Direct sow seeds of greens at the same time as you put out your transplants and every week or two until early June for continuous crops throughout the early part of the summer. Plant seeds again starting in August and you can be growing greens from April through October.
Seeds of lettuce and other greens are small and only need to be 1/4-inch below the surface of the soil when planted. Sow seeds thickly and give seedlings more room by harvesting some of the seedlings small. These baby greens are delicious in salads. Keep the beds well-watered.
Greens like sun, though some do fine in partial shade, especially as the summer gets hotter. Head lettuces, like romaine and Boston lettuce, are fun to grow and can be ornamental in the garden. But for a big, continuous harvest, the leaf lettuces are perfect. These are also called “cut and come again” lettuces because you can harvest what you need and the lettuces will continue to grow.
Spinach and leaf lettuce are fairly quick to harvest—30 to 45 days for spinach. Kale, collards and Swiss chard need more time—70 to 80 days or more from seed—to reach maturity, but they are slower to bolt (send up seed stalks) than the lettuces.
Plant a selection of greens for delicious harvests through the summer.
For more about greens, check out our article from last year. You can also check out our series of articles called 31 Days to a Great Northern Vegetable Garden for complete details on growing greens and other vegetables in the North.