Growing Leafy Vegetables

It’s very heartening to see the gradual trend towards understanding what it means to eat healthily.

The rising demand of organic food, grass fed meat, paleo diet, and more is a clear sign that people are realizing the importance of taking a more proactive approach in making decisions about their health — and what it means to enjoy the fruits of your own labor.

Homesteaders – the rural, suburban and urban types – have long known the benefits gained from producing their own veggies.  Aside from the health benefits, the cost savings can be substantial.

It was not until recently that the thought of this change struck a chord with me. What the world around us is now realizing is something that many Baby Boomers have been doing as their past time. Many of us are literally enjoying the fruits (and leafy vegetables) of our labor!

Let’s dig for our leafy greens!

The Type of Soil

You will need soil that is loamy i.e. it can retain water long enough for the plant to absorb water and drain the excess water. This is unlike a sandy soil that drains too quickly, causing the plant to wilt.

On the other hand, soil that is muddy retains moisture for too long and causes mineral rich water to come to the surface, where it dries out leaving patches of minerals. Both sandy soil and muddy soil will wreak havoc on our efforts at planting green leafy vegetables.

The Right Climate

Leafy vegetables thrive in cooler climates and can yield fresh veggies throughout the year. In case your area experiences harsher, arid climates, I advise you to pursue your planting venture in early spring or late summer.

Special Needs

Leafy vegetables are bursting with chlorophyll and hence have a heightened need for direct sunlight — at least 8 hours of it. In case of warmer, arid climates, I advise planting the vegetables in containers, and moving them into shade after they’ve received sunlight needed.

The Right Time to Plant

Leafy vegetables, as noted earlier, require cooler weather for optimal growth. The best time for planting germinated seeds (seedlings) is during early spring and late summer. This means that you have to prepare the seeds beforehand. Germination requires at least 4 weeks. If you’re in a cooler climate, you can perform the task indoors before the last frost and transplant them later.

Most Prolific Types of Leafy Greens

So which leafy greens should you root for? The good news is that you can generally find several types seeds and seedlings at local nurseries.  Talk to the pros and pick their brains!  Among these, a few of the exceptionally popular ones include Kale, Chard, Spinach, Broccoli, Lettuce, and Cabbage.

If you are just beginning with your farming experiment, I recommended that you start with green leafy vegetables that are known to be prolific growers for your local climatic conditions. At any time if you feel your vegetation is not growing properly, consult an expert immediately – you might be able to save a “life”!

Nutritional Information

“Green leafy vegetables” is a broad category, and it’s not quite possible to estimate the nutritional value of the entire category. And given that I’m no nutritional expert, I’ll simply dish out my experience and research. Kale and lettuce are two leafy green vegetables that are very popular.  In a 100 gram serving of lettuce, you can expect to receive the following:

  • Calories: 17
  • Fat: about 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: about 4 g
  • Proteins: about 2 g        
  • Dietary fiber: about 2 g

On the other hand, in a 100 gram serving of Kale, you can expect to receive:

  • Calories: 50
  • Fat: about 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: about 10 g
  • Proteins: about 4 g        
  • Dietary fiber: about 2 g

Parting Words

Hopefully, this short post will set you on the right track for planting and harvesting those lovely leafy green vegetables. Here are a few parting tips and tricks that will help you complete your project on a successful note:

  • Work the soil thoroughly to remove clumps and create spaces in the soil. Seeds do not grow well in compact soil.
  • While sowing the seeds or seedlings, make sure there is at least one feet of soil beneath the seeds and twice its size above it. This helps the seeds establish strong foundations in the soil as the roots will have ample space to spread.
  • Besides this, you need to ensure the soil remains damp at all times. Use the finger test to see whether it is adequately wet or not. When you press in with a finger, the soil should feel soft and foamy. If it doesn’t, add more water to the soil and/or water more frequently. Alternatively, you can also more organic materials to improve the soil quality naturally.

All the best!

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