Leafy greens are also known as green vegetables or leaf vegetables. These are healthy herbaceous plants that only last a few months. However, some leafy greens can last you all summer if you only pick the outside leaves, but others will bolt (shoot up a flower), when the weather gets hot.
All leafy greens are healthy as they are rich with antioxidants, fiber and many other essential nutrients. Here are 5 healthy and easy-to-grow leafy greens:
Kale is a very healthy leafy green, as it has a dark green color and contains vitamins A, C and K, folate, iron and calcium. The leaves are either curly or flat and come in colors of purple, bluish-green, or dark green.
Kale can be enjoyed throughout the summer, as you can plant it early for a spring harvest that will last until the fall. Or, you can plant kale in the summer for a fall crop. It is a hardy plant that is able to withstand a light frost in the fall. Leaving the kale until the frost has touched down will help to bring out the flavor.
Collard greens are rich with vitamins A, C and K, folate and calcium. They are of the same family as kale and cabbage, and therefore have a similar taste. However, unlike kale the leaves are smooth and more rounded at the top.
Seeds are usually started indoors, as collards need a longer growing season. You can transplant the seeds 4 to 6 weeks after they come up, and then it takes another 60 days before you can harvest them.
Spinach has a sweeter taste than kale and collards, but nevertheless it is still very healthy. It contains vitamins A, C, E, K and most B vitamins, and contains minerals such as iron, magnesium calcium and zinc.
Spinach likes the cooler weather, and will bolt as soon as the weather gets hot. However, if you enjoy spinach you can plant the spring crop in April, and the fall crop in August.
Swiss chard is a great substitute for spinach in the hot summer months, as it does not bolt, and it even tastes similar. It contains vitamins A, C and K, potassium and iron. To make the collards last throughout the summer, only pick the outer leaves so that the center leaves can continue to grow.
Beet greens contain vitamins A and C, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, iron and manganese. Beet greens come in different colors; some are deep red, while others are green with red veins. You can enjoy both the leaves as well as the roots. However, if you plan on using the root, do not pick too many leaves as it will stunt the growth of the root.
Use organic fertilizers or compost whenever possible to help your plants grow. Using organic matter on your plants allows them to absorb more nutrients from the soil, water and sun. As a result they will be a lot healthier for you to consume.