Alicia DeVore

Greens are like gold in health for the body. Leafy greens are not only delicious but also packed with essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are vital for maintaining overall health. Want to grow your own greens, learn about their health benefits, and discover delicious ways to incorporate them into your meals? Read more to find out how.

In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of how to grow your greens in your garden, explore their nutritional content and health benefits, and share some scrumptious recipes that will make you fall in love with these versatile veggies. So, let’s dive in and grow, cook, and eat our way to a healthier lifestyle!

Key Takeaways

  • Grow nutrient-dense leafy greens in your own home garden with the right soil preparation, sunlight and watering needs.

  • Leafy greens provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants & phytonutrients for optimal health benefits.

  • Enjoy fresh salads & smoothies or cooked dishes like soups & stews to reap maximum nutrition from leafy vegetables.

Growing Your Own Greens: A Beginner’s Guide

leafy greens for health and to help you

Growing your own leafy greens can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to enjoy these nutrient-dense vegetables in the cool season weather. Plus, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of harvesting fresh greens straight from your garden and turning them into a delicious meal. So, whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a newbie looking to add more greens to your plate, we have some valuable tips to help you get started.

Let’s look at the basic aspects of beginning a home garden dedicated to leafy green vegetables. We will discuss how to choose the right greens, prepare the soil and fertilize, and meet the sunlight and watering needs of your plants.

Choosing the Right Greens

To begin with, the selection of suitable leafy greens for your garden is of utmost importance. Different leafy greens have varying growing requirements and flavor profiles, therefore, it’s paramount to pick the ones that align with your palate and gardening skills. Some popular options include:

  • Collard greens

  • Beet greens

  • Mustard greens

  • Turnip greens

  • Spinach

  • Chard

  • Kale

Each of these greens offers an abundance of vitamins and minerals that offer numerous health benefits, and greens can be used in various dishes to enhance their nutritional value. Here is a list of more easy veggies to grow.

Keep in mind that some greens, like mustard greens, have a peppery flavor, while others, such as spinach, have a milder taste. Microgreens, which are the young and tender leaves of various plants, can be grown indoors year-round, providing a convenient and continuous supply of fresh greens.

Soil Preparation and Fertilization

Appropriate soil preparation lays the groundwork for a prosperous leafy green garden. Good soil should be well-drained and rich in organic matter, helping plants retain moisture without becoming waterlogged. If you see that your soil has been depleted from past garden use then you can use a soil test kit to help determine what your soil is missing to add back into the soil to grow your greens successfully.

Once you know your soil’s composition, you can amend it by incorporating organic matter with compost. This improves the soil’s structure and nutrient content, creating an ideal environment for your leafy greens to grow.

Enriching your soil is another key step in supplying the required nutrients for your plants’ growth. Choose between organic fertilizers, depending on your needs and preferences.

Sunlight and Watering Needs

Different leafy greens have specific sunlight and watering requirements, and attending to these needs is pivotal for maintaining a healthy and productive garden. Most leafy greens require at least 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, so make sure to plant them in a location that gets enough sun.

As for watering, leafy greens generally need 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Regular watering ensures the soil remains moist, promoting healthy growth. Be mindful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot and other issues. By providing the right balance of sunlight and water, you’ll be well on your way to a flourishing leafy green garden. Regular watering helps to insulate your greens and keeps them warmer in the cold months.

Leafy Green Nutrition and Health Benefits

lady with orange shirt holding greens

Having covered the cultivation of leafy greens, let’s now venture into the health benefits these remarkable veggies present. Packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, leafy greens are a powerhouse of nutrition that can significantly impact your health.

In this part, we’ll explore the different nutrients present in leafy greens and the potential health benefits they provide, such as cancer prevention, heart health, and improved digestion. So, grab a bunch of leafy greens and get ready to learn about their incredible nutritional content!

For more information in growing in summer, check out this blog post.

Vitamins and Minerals

Leafy greens are an excellent source of vitamins, providing essential vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin B9 (folate)

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin K

  • Calcium

These nutrients play a vital role in sustaining overall health, as they are part of a healthy lifestyle, assisting the body in performing its functions optimally, and providing protection against illnesses.

For instance, including a variety of leafy greens in your diet ensures you’re getting a diverse range of essential nutrients, such as vitamins a c and k, which contribute to vitamin and bone health:

  • Vitamin A, which supports healthy vision and immune function

  • Vitamin C, which is crucial for collagen production and wound healing

  • Vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting and bone health

  • Calcium, which is necessary for strong bones and teeth

Antioxidants and Phytonutrients

green drink with lemon slice in the background

In addition to vitamins and minerals, leafy greens are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients that can provide numerous health benefits. Some of the health benefits of leafy greens include:

  • Protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals

  • Supporting a healthy immune system

  • Promoting healthy digestion

  • Reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and certain types of cancer

  • Supporting brain health and cognitive function

These antioxidants and phytonutrients are compounds found in plants that possess beneficial properties for health.

Some leafy greens, such as mustard greens, contain glucosinolates, which have antioxidant properties and are believed to have cancer-preventive qualities. Other leafy greens, like watercress, contain compounds that may help target cancer stem cells and impair cancer cell reproduction. By consuming a variety of leafy greens, you can take advantage of these powerful compounds and their potential health benefits.

Harvesting and Storing Your Greens

lots of greens on a counter

Correct harvesting and storage of your leafy greens is vital to ensure they retain their freshness, flavor, and nutritional value. This part will give advice on the optimal time for harvesting your leafy greens to ensure peak freshness and flavor, as well as techniques for proper storage to preserve their nutritional content.

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting, these tips will ensure you enjoy the best-tasting and most nutritious leafy greens from your garden.

When to Harvest

Recognizing the optimal time to harvest various leafy greens is key to securing maximum flavor and nutritional value. The optimal time to harvest is when the leaves are young and tender, usually in the early spring. Alternatively, you can also harvest the leaves when they are more mature.

Harvesting leafy greens in the morning is ideal, as they have had the opportunity to regain moisture overnight, maximizing their flavor and nutritional content. When harvesting, use sharp scissors or a knife to cut the leaves, and only harvest the outer leaves, leaving the inner leaves to continue growing. This will allow for a continuous harvest throughout the season.

Storing Techniques

Correct storage methods are vital to preserving the freshness and nutritional value of your leafy greens. To ensure optimal freshness, follow these steps:

  1. Place your leafy greens in an airtight container or plastic bag.

  2. Add a folded paper towel to absorb any excess moisture.

  3. Store them in the refrigerator.

  4. Keep them away from ethylene-producing fruits and vegetables, such as apples and bananas.

By following these steps, you can extend the shelf life of your leafy greens and maintain their quality.

Before storing leafy greens, follow these steps:

  1. Rinse and dry the greens.

  2. Wrap them in a paper towel or tea towel to maintain moisture.

  3. Place the wrapped greens in a loosely sealed reusable food storage bag.

  4. Store them in a cool, dry place.

Remember to use your leafy greens as soon as possible to enjoy their peak flavor and nutritional benefits.

Delicious and Healthy Leafy Green Recipes

greens in a colander

Now that you know how to grow, harvest, and store your leafy greens, it’s time to put them to good use in some delicious and healthy recipes. Here are some ideas:

  • Refreshing salads

  • Smoothies

  • Hearty cooked dishes

  • Comforting soups

There’s no shortage of ways to enjoy these nutrient-packed, low in calories veggies, even when eaten raw.

In this part, we’ll introduce a range of delectable leafy green recipes that will delight your palate and nourish your body. Get ready to discover your new favorite leafy green dishes!

Salads and Smoothies

Salads and smoothies are a fantastic way to enjoy the refreshing taste and nutritional benefits of leafy greens. They’re perfect for a light meal or snack, and the possibilities are endless when it comes to combining flavors and textures.

For a zesty and nutrient-packed salad, try combining mustard greens, turnip greens, and spinach with your favorite salad dressing. Or, blend dandelion greens, kale, and frozen fruit in a green smoothie for a delicious and energizing drink. Experiment with different leafy greens, fruits, and dressings to find your perfect salad or smoothie combination.

Cooked Dishes

Leafy greens, also known as leafy vegetables, can be enjoyed eaten raw or cooked, in a variety of dishes such as sautéed, steamed, and baked options. These dishes can serve as a main course or a flavorful side dish, adding a nutritional boost to any meal.

For a satisfying and nutritious meal, try:

  • Sautéing Swiss chard with garlic and olive oil

  • Steaming bok choy and drizzling it with a savory soy sauce

  • Cooking beet greens and serving them as a tasty side dish

  • Adding raw spinach to a variety of recipes, such as pasta dishes, quiches, and casseroles

Get creative in the kitchen and discover the many ways to enjoy cooked leafy greens, including romaine lettuce!

Soups, Stews, and Green Vegetables

greens on a counter

Soups and stews featuring leafy greens are perfect for a warm and comforting meal, packed with nourishing ingredients. These dishes are versatile and can be easily adapted to suit your preferences and dietary needs.

Try making a kale and potato soup, spinach and lentil stew, or a creamy broccoli and cheese soup for a scrumptious and filling meal. The combination of leafy greens with other vegetables, proteins, and spices creates a delicious and satisfying dish that will keep you coming back for more.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different leafy greens, such as chinese cabbage, and ingredients to find your favorite soup or stew recipe with a slightly bitter flavor.

Grow Your Greens Summary

In conclusion, leafy greens are a powerhouse of nutrition, offering a wide array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that can benefit your health. Growing your own leafy greens can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to enjoy these nutritious vegetables, and with proper harvesting and storage techniques, you can savor their peak flavor and nutritional content.

We hope this blog post has inspired you to grow, cook, and eat more leafy greens, incorporating them into your daily diet through delicious and healthy recipes. For a look into making your own healthy herbal salt, check out this blog post. Or dive into learning more about growing your own chamomile for health HERE. So, go ahead and embrace the wonderful world of leafy greens, and give your body the nourishment it deserves!

If you want to learn more about growing your own greens with support, check out the main page to grab a garden freebie or book a garden consultation by zoom with Alicia. And check out this blog post on easy veggies to grow in summer for your next season of gardening after spring.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is John Kohler?

John Kohler is an expert on juicers and a health advocate striving to educate the world about the benefits of eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, accomplished through his websites and

How do you grow your own greens?

To grow your own greens, sow seed in well-draining soil and full sun, six weeks before the average last frost for spinach, kale and mustard, three weeks later for lettuce and Swiss chard. Set out malabar spinach plants after the threat of frost has passed. Water gently to moisten soil and you can start harvesting leaves in 20-30 days.

What is the easiest leafy greens to grow?

Leaf lettuces and dark leafy greens such as kale, chard, collards, mustard, arugula and Bok choy are some of the easiest vegetables to grow, taking less time for anything to go wrong and yielding high nutrient content.

What greens grow in garden?

Greens like lettuce, spinach, arugula, corn salad, mustard, Asian greens, collards, kale, turnips, pac choi, Swiss chard, spring mix, napa cabbage, mizuna, purple mustard, and spinach grow well in gardens.

How often should I water my leafy greens?

Water your leafy greens once or twice a week to ensure they get 1-2 inches of water.

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About the Author

Alicia has been teaching her whole life from elementary teacher to workshops for beginning gardeners.  Go HERE to read Alicia's story into gardening from plant killer to pro grower and garden coach.  If you want to send Alicia a quick message, then use her contact page HERE.

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