Harvesting Leafy Vegetables

Leafy vegetables are easy to grow. They contain more vitamins and minerals and less calories than any other vegetables. Most grow well under cool conditions and can be eaten at any stage of maturity, which makes them ideal for regions with a short growing season.

Salad greens and cooked greens are leafy vegetables. Not all leafy vegetables are green and may be both a salad green and a cooked green. For instance, chard can be eaten as salad greens or as cooked greens.


Leafy vegetables that are generally eaten uncooked in salads include lettuce, celery, endive, dandelion greens and parsley. Lettuce and endive are planted in April and again in late July. Celery should be transplanted in mid-June to mid-July, when plants are about 10 weeks old. Few people actually plant dandelion for greens, but some who do not use chemicals on their lawns harvest the young leaves of the weed in the spring and fall. Parsley is a cool-season crop and grows best in the spring and fall.

Cooked greens include spinach, which is planted as a spring crop in April and a fall crop in August. True spinach begins to flower in warm weather, although some varieties are slower than others. New Zealand spinach is not a true spinach, but it tolerates hot weather better than spinach.


Chard, also known as Swiss chard, is heat-tolerant and produces greens from July to October.


Leafy vegetables, like root Crops, can be harvested whenever there's enough of the vegetable to make it worthwhile. However, there is a generally accepted ideal size and form for each vegetable. Pick leaf lettuce when the leaf is large enough to cover a salad plate and cabbage when the head is firm. Cool season leaf Crops include beet greens, cabbage, celery, green onions, lettuce, mustard greens, parsley, spinach and turnip greens.


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