The National Garden Bureau has declared 2022 as "The Year of the Salad Greens". Salad greens do not sound exciting to many people compared to vine-ripened tomatoes but people who eat salads regularly have higher levels of powerful antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, folic acid, lycopene, and alpha- and beta-carotene in their blood. Additionally, salad greens are low in calories but high in dietary fiber.
While many of the names of these greens are not familiar and their tastes can be exotic, you will find them at restaurants, farmer’s markets, and the supermarket produce section. These greens come in many shades of green and red, are crispy and creamy and the taste can range from sweet to spicy.
A recent study commissioned by Fresh Express found that 73% of Americans are dedicating themselves to a healthier diet. The study also discovered that 65% of Americans are shopping for more produce and fresh food now than ever before. Over one-third (34%) say they are trying to make salad a part of their daily eating in order to meet the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. The average American is eating salads three times a week. Thirty-six percent have eaten more salads than ever since the pandemic began.
With all of this great news on getting healthier and eating fresh vegetables, why not try growing your own salad greens. This is a great way to get fresh vegetables and healthy food into your diet. It also offers many benefits such as:
- Better taste: Growing salad greens at home can help you enjoy the freshest and most flavorful vegetables.
- Less expensive: You can save money by growing your own salad greens.
- Healthier produce: Homegrown vegetables are typically healthier than the ones you buy in a store because they don't have any pesticides or other chemicals on them.
There are so many different types of salad greens to choose from, that can cater to your personality and tastes:
- Asteraceae family: lettuce, chicory, dandelion greens
- Amaranthaceae family: spinach
- Brassicaceae family: arugula, kale, mustard greens
- Other: Asian greens, chard, herbs, beet, and turnip tops
Here are some interesting salad greens to try growing:
Asian Delight Pak Choi – This Chinese Cabbage also known as Bok Choy, was the AAS Winner in 2018 (All American Selections) which outperformed all other Pak Choi. This Pak Choi does not bolt like the competition, even weeks after other varieties went to seed. That means the yield from this AAS Winner can be double or even higher than that of other Pak Choi on the market. Asian Delight forms small to mid-size (5-7 inch) heads that have a tasty, tender white rib and dark green, textured leaves. One judge seeded his trial three times and all three times Asian Delight did not bolt whereas the comparisons did. “This is the best white stem mini–Pak Choi I have ever seen.” That’s quite an endorsement!
Cheap Frills Mix - A colorful kaleidoscope of highly textured leaves that provides visual interest and excellent loft. An exceptional combination of textures, flavors, and colors with a higher proportion of both red and green, frilled leaves. Found exclusively at Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
Lettuce Bauer – A 2022 AAS Winner is a delicious and versatile edible that is super easy (and fast) to grow in the garden. Harvest at the baby leaf stage or grow into the rosette-shaped full-sized head. Bauer will please with its darker green color and nicely uniform compact size that can be grown anywhere, in-ground, in containers, or in window boxes. The dense heads produce a plethora of sweet, crisp sturdy leaves. Now all you need is your favorite vinaigrette!
Oceanside Spinach – Like the amazing smooth surfing waves in Oceanside, California, the leaves of this spinach just keep growing. The baby cut variety has dark green smooth round oval leaves that are thick but tender. At full maturity, large broad leaves still give excellent silky texture and a mild sweet flavor. Seeds are sold at Fedco Seeds.
Kale Redbor - Redbor Kale is different from other kales due to its impressive deep red maroon color. It has frilly, curled leaves that have deep purple stems and veins running throughout. Growing between 18 to 24 inches in length, the redbor kale offers a mild cabbage-like flavor and crisp texture. When cooked it becomes tender and nutty with a mild earthy sweetness.