We've grown over 100 different types of leafy greens all across northern California, the rainy Pacific Northwest, the dessert of Joshua Tree, multiple southern & east coast states, as well is in our test garden in Santa Rosa, CA. Here are some of our findings!
What to plant:
Favorite greens that can withstand moderate to high heat & cool moist environments alike.
marvel of four seasons
black seeded simpson
red veined sorrel
bright lights chard
Italian red dandelion
When to plant:
In the morning or early evening is the best time to garden. Avoid the mid-day heat to protect yourself as well as your little plants.
Get those greens started early! In general, most greens do not like heat above 75 degrees, so start your greens as soon as the risk of snow has passed. This will allow for 1-2 plantings before peak summer heat sets in.
In Sonoma/Marin Counties (CA) we plant greens in April to be harvested in June. Pockets in these counties may become quite hot, so we plant our lettuces in all-day filtered sunlight or morning sun & afternoon shade.
In cool-wet areas such as the Olympic Peninsula (WA), leafy greens are placed outdoors in May, after the heavy rain season has concluded. Planting too early may cause the little plants to be eaten up by slugs or over-watered.
*year-round growing is possible in WA but may require the use of additional materials such as hoops and other protective materials.
How to plant:
Add a thick layer of organic matter (compost), about 4" to the top of your soil. This will set you up for success for the season as the matter breaks down, adding nutrition to your soil and feeding those helpful worms! To keep your soil (and you) healthy, check to be sure the compost is organic.
We love mushroom compost and we add it between each season.
Once you have a nice layer of compost down you can plant the starts directly into the compost. Each plant will have it's own planting preferences regarding depth. Your best bet is to dig a small hole about 2" larger than your start.
Gently squeeze the sides of the container your start is homed in. If your start is dry, add a little water to moisten the soil. This will help prevent root damage as you remove the start.
Place the start in the hole you have dug and gently fill any remaining gap in the soil with compost/soil. The soil-level should match the level of the start. For leafy greens it is important that the base of the stem not be covered with soil or compost.
Gently water the base of the start, avoiding splattering water on the leaves. Press down with two fingers around the base of the plant to help push out air pockets.
You have now planted and are ready to grow!