Spring into action — start leafy greens now!

UC Master GardenerFebruary 20, 2013 

A mix of edible greens can keep your salad bowl filled all year long, with a little planning.

LEE OLIPHANT

Can’t wait to start planting outdoors? You can begin sowing seeds of “spring greens” now, and add them to salads in four to six weeks.

Yes, it’s time to begin planting seeds of those delicious, crunchy, nutty, spicy, vitamin-rich, gourmet greens that provide exotic flavor and color to your dishes. With a little planning, you can grow them all year long. Look for cool season varieties for planting now, switching to warm season varieties in the warmer regions of the county during the summer.

Some popular cool weather greens that are easy to grow are lettuce, such as red and green oakleaf, red sails, tango and black seeded Simpson. Other easy-to-grow cool-weather greens are spinach, arugula, tender-green mustard spinach, cress, mizuna, mache, escarole, garden cress, chard and kale. Planting mesclun, which means “a mix,” allows you to enjoy a variety of greens in a small space.

Plant seeds every two to three weeks to keep them coming. Try the “cut and come again” method of harvesting. Snip the leaves off as they grow or pick leaves from the sides and they will contin ue to grow from the middle. These harvesting methods allow you to enjoy your greens over a longer period of time.

In colder climates, start seeds indoors in a cold frame or greenhouse. Seed in ground outdoors in warmer areas when the soil temperature is at least 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Germination should take place in six to 12 days. Spring greens needs a humus-rich, moisture-retentive, well-drained soil with plenty of nitrogen.

Learn about how to incorporate edible plants into your home’s landscaping. Join the Master Gardeners for a presentation of Edible Landscaping on Saturday in the Community Room at Oak Creek Commons, 635 Nicklaus St., Paso Robles, 93446.

GOT A GARDENING QUESTION?

Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners: at 781-5939 from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Arroyo Grande; and at 434-4105 from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners Web site at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo/ or   e-mail mgsanluisobispo@ucdavis.edu  

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