Growing Baby Greens

Try Eating the Leaves of Plants to Improve Your Health.

Leafy vegetables are packed with fiber along with vitamins, minerals, and plant-based substances that help protect you from heart disease, diabetes, and perhaps even cancer. They can be used raw in salads or green smoothies as well as wilted in a hot pan of oil.  Different mixtures of  greens deliver different flavors and textures so try  several until you find one that you like. The baby leaves of bok choy are mild while some of the mixes containing mustard can be spicy.

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Mixture of different loose leaf lettuces

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Leaf Greens Are Easy to Grow

Lettuce, Kale, Chard, Spinach, Mustard Greens, Collard Greens and many Asian Greens like Bok Choy can be harvested in the baby leaf stage when they are about 5 to 6 inches tall. These types of greens grow best in the Spring and again in the Fall. They don’t grow very much in the middle of winter but will survive some cold especially if covered on very cold nights. I have harvested Spinach and Kale through the winter with a little protection.

Most of these greens only take about 4 weeks from seed to harvest at the baby leaf stage. You can sow them in rows 2 or 3 seeds per inch and 2 to 3 inches between the rows. I like to cover my seed with vermiculite because it holds moisture around the seed while they germinate. You can also cover with a lightweight cloth or newspaper to help hold the moisture. Plant in moist soil and be sure to check the soil every day while they are germinating so that they will not dry out. After you see the first sign of green starting to show remove the cloth or newspaper or your seedling will stretch from not having enough light. Germination takes about a week or less and your greens will be ready to harvest when they are about 5 to 6 inches tall. Total time from seed to harvest is around four weeks. Greens don’t need a lot of fertilizer but will definitely benefit from compost or an organic fertilizer added just before you sow the seed. After germination you can water every  two to three days depending on the weather. You want the soil to be moist but not soggy wet.  Harvest your baby greens with scissors leaving about an inch of the plant to regrow. Depending on what you are growing and the weather you will be able to harvest 3 or more times from one sowing.

Click Here for a link to High Mowing seed where you can buy baby leaf green mixtures.

Click Here for a link to Johnny’s seed where you can buy baby leaf green mixtures.

Mixture of different Kales

Mixture of different Kales

 

 

 

 

Video of sowing lettuce in a square foot garden.

In this video I am sowing lettuce at only one seed per inch but using the same method you can sow your baby greens thicker.

 

Figs – Nutritious Benefits

Figs are in Season.  Don’t miss the nutritional benefits that they can add to your diet!
According to Dr. Mercola – “Figs are high in fiber and a good source of several essential minerals, including magnesium, manganese, calcium (which promotes bone density), copper, and potassium (which helps lower blood pressure), as well as vitamins, principally K and B6.
Besides keeping much longer, the nutritional value of figs increase when they’re dried. A half-cup of fresh figs, for instance, provides as much calcium as one-half cup of milk, but a single dried fig contains almost as much calcium as an egg. Whether fresh or dried, figs contain powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals in your body and fight disease.
Fig supplies healthy amounts of dietary fiber, which keeps your system regulated and may have a positive effect on weight management. According to one study, the fruits with the most fiber content include apples, dates, figs, pears, and prunes, and there was a 34% reduction in breast cancer risk among women who consumed the most fruit fiber, compared to those who ate the least.”

Baked Fried Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes add some crunch and a little zing to your meal.  Try this method for making them, so much easier than frying them and they taste even better than fried.

Ingredients:

4 large firm green tomatoes

1 1/2 cups of Panko bread crumbs  (or make your own bread crumbs)

If using unseasoned bread crumbs you will need salt, pepper and seasoning of choice.

1 egg beaten

Olive oil to drizzle over tomatoes 

How to make them:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Wash and cut off the stem of the tomatoes.

Slice your tomatoes about 1/8″ thick.

Dip each tomato slice into your egg and then into your bowl of Panko bread crumbs.

Coat both sides.

(If you are using bread crumbs that are not seasoned mix salt, pepper and seasoning of choice in these crumbs before dipping the tomatoes in them).  Italian herbs are really good on them.

Place your coated tomatoes onto a oiled baking sheet.

Drizzle a little EVOO over the tomatoes.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 7-10 minutes.  When they start toasting to that golden brown flip them over and cook the other side for another 7-10 minutes.

So easy but so good!

Roasted Marinated Peppers

What better way to enjoy your peppers through the winter?  Marinated peppers add a delightful flavor that you will enjoy as a snack or as an addition to salads or sandwiches.  So good!

Ingredients to make a quart jar:

6-8 sweet peppers

4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

1 Tbs fresh oregano, minced or 1 t dry oregano, crumbled

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 t sea salt

1/4 cup EVOO

Optional:  2 T capers   

How to make them:

Roast the peppers until the skins are charred all over.

Place the peppers in a plastic bag and let steam until cool. (about 15 minutes)

Wash off the skins.

Cut each pepper into 4 slices, removing the seeds and stem.

Optional:  If using sweet banana peppers or other smaller peppers just leave the pepper whole leaving the seeds and stem.

Mix together the vinegar and salt.

Place a layer of pepper strips into the bottom of a sterilized quart jar.

Place sliced garlic, oregano and optional capers over this and cover with another layer of pepper slices.

Repeat the layering of pepper and seasonings until the jar is almost filled.

Top off the jar with vinegar mixture and EVOO.

Cover the jar with a lid.  I like to use the plastic storage lids for this.

Place in the refrigerator.

Let sit for at least a day and then enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Eggplant, Peppers & Mozzarella

What to do with a plentiful harvest of eggplant and sweet peppers?  Try this simple vegetable recipe that is a wonderful side dish for your meals.

Ingredients:

Several sweet peppers, seeded  (Using red, yellow or orange peppers adds lots of color and flavor but green works too)

2 eggplants, but into rounds

1 Tbs EVOO

1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced to cover the bottom of your cast iron skillet

Fresh parsley 

Salt & Pepper to taste

Balsamic vinegar

How to Prepare

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut deseeded peppers into strips.

Cut eggplant into rounds.  (I peel if using an Italian eggplant AKA your traditional egg shaped eggplant but I don’t peel if using the long slender Asian varieties)

Place the peppers and eggplant rounds onto a baking sheet.

Drizzle these with olive oil and season with salt & pepper.

Roast in the oven until the vegetables start to brown around the edges.  You will need to turn them a time or two while they are cooking.

Add slices of mozzarella cheese to the bottom of a cast iron skillet.

Arrange the roasted veggies over the cheese.

Put the skillet into the still hot oven and cook just until the cheese melts.

Top dress with fresh parsley and a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar.

 

 

 

What You Should Plant in Your Fall Garden

 A fall garden means that you harvest in the fall

A fall garden actually has to be planted in the summer. Depending on where you live you want to plant your fall garden 8 to 10 weeks before the first frost of the fall. In my Georgia garden that means planting about mid to late August because we usually start getting frost early to mid November, planting plants in the garden in some cases and planting seeds in the ground with some varieties. Broccoli for instance is a crop that takes 60 to 80 days to mature from  plants set out in the garden so if  I plant Broccoli on the 15th of August we would expect to harvest by mid October for a 60 day variety.

You can find the the number of days to maturity in your seed catalog and it should tell you if the days to maturity are from plant set out in the garden or from seed sown directly in the garden. I use Johnny’s seed co. and their catalog has most of the information you need on days to maturity. To find the average first frost dates, soil temperatures and other helpful weather information I use the University Of Georgia Weather network  In other states I am sure there is something similar through your agricultural university.

 

This is a list of the vegetables I plant in mid to late August from transplants into the garden.

If you are starting this list from seeds in pots to be set out in the garden you will need to start your seed in mid July or buy your plants ready to set out in mid to late August.

Broccoli

Cauliflower

Cabbage

Brussel Sprouts

Kale    (Or it can be sown  direct  from seed in the garden )   Pick individual leaves and Kale will last into the winter)

Collard    (Or it can be sown direct from seed in the garden)   Pick individual leaves and collards will last into the winter

Swiss Chard  ( Chard is less cold hardy than others on this list and will not last into the winter )

Chinese Cabbage

Lettuce     ( Or it can be sown directly from seed in the garden)

This is a list of vegetables I sow seeds directly into the garden in mid to late August.

Turnips for greens

Mustard greens

Turnips

Rutabaga

Carrots

Beets

Radish

Spinach   ( I wait until the soil temperature is around 70 degrees in September to sow spinach seed)  Spinach is very hardy and will survive with temperatures of 2o degrees

 

 

Pan Fried Squash and Eggplant

It’s summertime and squash and eggplant are plentiful! Let’s combine them with some of that flavorful sweet basil from your garden for a quick delightful side dish.

Ingredients:

3 medium eggplants  (I like to use the long slender Asian varieties, but any kind will work).  

3 summer squash  (Zucchini will work fine too)

1/4 cup capers, drained

Sea salt & black pepper to taste

Olive oil to cover bottom of pan

Bundle of basil

Balsamic glaze  (If I don’t have balsamic glaze and don’t have time to reduce the balsamic vinegar the balsamic vinegar sprinkled on will work fine for flavor)

 

 

 

 

What to Do:

Wash and slice your eggplant and squash into about 1/2″ slices.  Peel the eggplant if using the larger

Pour oil into skillet just to cover bottom and heat till it starts to shimmer.

Add your squash and eggplant working in batches until all have been browned on both sides, usually about 3 minutes per side.

As they finish browning place on dish lined with paper towels to drain.

Add capers to remaining oil in your skillet and fry until they start to open and crisp up.  This won’t take long, maybe about a minute.

Arrange your eggplant and squash on your serving platter and sprinkle with the capers.

Top with basil that has been cut into ribbons, a drizzle of balsamic glaze and a sprinkle of sea salt & black pepper to taste.IMG_20150523_183628499