Planning Your Greens Garden

By National Gardening Association Editors

When you think about greens to grow you've got a big group of plants to consider, as well as different varieties of some salad crops. So plan your greens garden on paper in mid-winter, when the temperature really drops. It's a nice time to spend an evening or two thumbing through the summery, colorful seed catalogs.

The Other Greens

In addition to lettuce, spinach and chard, why not make room for cabbage family greens, such as mustard and kale, as well as some of the lesser-known greens, such as chicory, corn salad (mache), radicchio and escarole. They don't take up much room, and a new green can really spice up a summer salad.

If you're planting your lettuce in space-saving wide rows, you'll have room to try several varieties. Buy an extra seed packet or two of varieties you'd like to try. Planting three- to six-foot rows of three or four kinds of lettuce will give almost any family more than enough lettuce to eat.

If you live in the South, you may want to design your garden to give lettuce and spinach some shade, so they'll last a little longer when the warm temperatures come and push these crops toward bolting.

Planning Tips

Start lettuce or greens indoors as transplants for an extra-early spring harvest, or to start a fall crop. Know in advance which method of shading you're going to use on your cool-weather greens, or try these planting ideas:

  • Plant quick-maturing leaf lettuces under pole bean teepees to provide some shade. The bean foliage will shade some of the sun and keep the plants and soil cool. Plant the beans early.
  • Plant some lettuce or spinach between your corn rows, or on the shady side of a row of tomatoes.
  • Try multi-planting. Plant lettuce, carrots and onions within the same wide row (15 to 16 inches across). Harvest the lettuce when young, leaving expansion room for carrots and onions. You can mix and match with other crops, too, including beets and spinach.
  • Save a window box for a peppery, green-like curly cress. Plant lettuce in a small section of your flower garden, or use it as a decorative, edible border. The foliage is lovely and contrasts beautifully with flowers.
  • Succession plant short rows of lettuce to avoid having too much mature at once.

Other articles in this series:
1. Leaf Crop ABC's
2. The Wide World of Lettuce
3. Planning Your Greens Garden ← you're on this article right now
4. Spinach Varieties
5. Preparing Soil for Greens
6. Growing Head Lettuce
7. Easy Cold Frames
8. Beets and Turnips
9. Cabbage Family Greens
10. Celery Essentials
11. Lettuce Essentials
12. Spinach Essentials

This article is a part of our Vegetable Gardening Guide for Lettuce and Greens / Getting Started.

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