By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
Gardening year round is one way I keep my food budget low or at least my vegetable cost.
But I cannot grow everything year round without a greenhouse and pollinators.
Below is a list of my favorite vegetables to grow in the fall and early spring along with some of my favorite out of the season growing techniques.
- Bibb lettuce which is a wonderful addition to any salad and wilted with bacon, hard boiled eggs and a vinegar-based salad dressing.
- Kale which is a superb green that is highly nutritious and easy to fix. It makes a wonderful salad raw, steamed and/or wilted with bacon and apples.
- Spinach is another highly nutritious green that can be eaten raw, cooked, sautéed, and creamed.
The techniques for growing these wonderful greens abound but I have found 3 simple techniques that do not require special equipment and/or commitment.
- Growing in a pot. Greens are very flexible with it comes to the growing container. A shallow container is perfect for shallow rooted greens such as Bibb lettuce and microgreens.
- Growing in a box. While this seems odd, greens can be grown in a box lined with aluminum foil and plastic.
- Grow in the ground. This may be one of the most common ways of growing greens. The seeds are planted on top of soil and slightly covered with a layer of soil. The seeds germinate as usual but what makes this type of production different is the outdoor temperature. In past seasons, the winters have been so mild that the freezing of Cole crops or greens has been a mute point. In the case of cold winters, straw, newspaper, cold frames and/or cloches have been used to insulate the plants from the cold. In general, the plants only need to be covered during the evening and then uncovered during the day.
While each technique described above has its own pros and cons, the important factor to keep in mind is to create a supply of fresh greens that will get one through to the traditional growing season. Pots and boxes give one the ability to move their “crops” out of the weather and to a location where they can be picked at leisure.
I have used this technique at a dinner party where I had my guest pick their own greens and literally create their own salad. I have also used this technique to turn an unproductive windowsill into a growing oasis above my kitchen sink. Whenever I am looking for a snack, I have a reminder of a healthy choice that is just at my fingertips.
So until we blog again, stretch your dietary budget and your food choices by growing some simple greens year round.