i d like to explore possibilities with you to grow fresh, alive greens all year long.
what we do at this moment:
- indoor soil sprouts (sunflower, pea-shoots, wheat-grass, barley-grass, cress)
- sprouts (lentils, peas, radish)
- in the garden: spinach, stinging-nettles, rucola, lettuce, chard, chives and some kind of perennial onion (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allium_fistulosum)
- some herbs indoors
what i m thinking of:
- greens in greenhouse in winter
- lamb´s lettuce
- curly kale (it s awesome when you ferment it for a few weeks)
- perennial kales (any experiences)
- greens in coldframes in the greenhouse (double-layer protection)
- greens from kohlrabi, cauliflower etc.
- wild herbs (dandelion, nettles ... what else?)
- growing baby lettuce and spinach indoors (atm i m doing lettuce starts indoors, they ve lots of aphids)
what are your thoughts/ideas?
whcih are good perennials (zone 8 ) for greens?
Basil (African Blue, East Indian)
Onions (Potato onions, Shallots, Egyptian onions, Japanese bunching onions, Welsh onions, Chinese leeks)
Artichoke (Jerusalem, also known as sunchokes)
Broccoli (Nine Star, Purple Cape)
Spinach (Ceylon, Sissoo, New Zeland)
Strawberries (Ever-bearing varieties can be maintained as perennials in colder climates)
Note, the citrus family would need green housing for winters as would the Avocado. The other way to ensure these species survive is to tent and use a smudge pot for sub freezing weather periods.
Tobias Ber wrote:hey...
i d like to explore possibilities with you to grow fresh, alive greens all year long.
what are your thoughts/ideas?
whcih are good perennials (zone 8 ) for greens?
I really like the book Backyard Winter Gardening, by Caleb Warnock. I can't find it in ebook form but would lend you my paperback if you can't find a copy here in Germany. He also sells seeds and classes at seedrenaissance.com
Right now in my Hamburg garden, the stinging nettles are doing great, of course. Dead nettles are everywhere as well. Shotweed is just a bite here and there, but I like the broccoli-like taste.
For things I've planted, the Good King Henry and lovage are looking good, though I'll give them a little more time to establish before harvesting. My sweet woodruff has been going crazy, including straight through the winter. I also planted a couple of sea kale from Martin Crawford in the middle of one of our cold snaps, and it's huge and lush and leafy just as it was then. It's caged from the rabbits right now - I think it wants a little more room, but I'm worried they'll eat it to the ground. On the other hand, they're not touching the GKH or lovage, so maybe it would be safe...
I've completely failed at getting perennial kales going from seed, but will try again this year.
Do you have a full greenhouse then?
I'll trade you 2 months of salad-growing weather for 2 months of chill hours so I could expand the kinds of fruit trees I wish to grow.
Chaya, nettles and sweet potato vines are "alternative" greens we enjoy. They have a longer growing season and extended life-span than short-lived lettuces and other garden greens. I would imagine that in your climate, sweet potatoes might extend your growing season by a month or 45 days -- they can take a bit of frost --- and provide you greens a bit later into the fall. I don't know how well they keep, as we never need to store them. I'd imagine only a week or two, just like a head of lettuce.
Cabbage stores well. When you consider that sauerkraut actually has more vitamin C than fresh cabbage, in a way, it's an extension of 'greens' from the garden.
I have been growing year-round greens in my greenhouse, which is probably zone 8. It goes down to about -5C or lower on nights in Dec, Jan and part of Feb, but without wind so quite a few greens do well. I'm a lot further south but higher altitude than you, so I get good sunlight all winter. In summer I tend to collect weeds from the bigger outdoor gardens and not plant my own.
I highly recommend Eliot Coleman's books The Four Season Harvest and The Winter Harvest Handbook. I tried some of the plants and varieties he recommends, and they've worked great for me. He points out that you should plant most of these in August or September so they get established before winter, and then they may not grow much in winter but they'll stay fresh and alive. He recommends certain forms of protection for some plants or zones.
Another excellent book is The Bountiful Solar Greenhouse, by Shane Smith, 1982.
Traditional winter greenhouse leafy greens in Ladakh:
Swiss chard. We move our outdoor plants into the greenhouse in autumn.
Local chinese cabbage, a rough leaf.
Spinach can be extended into winter.
A bitter local lettuce that is only cooked, not salad.
"Edible chrysanthemum" is used in soup here because it holds its shape when cooked, but I like it in salads or sandwiches. We eat it when it's small; if you let a few get big in spring, they are ornamental, with lots of bright yellow daisies. It is no longer considered a chrysanthemum, but The Bountiful Solar Greenhouse says: “Edible Chrysanthemum: Some people know this plant as Chop-suey greens. It has a wonderful sweet, mild, nut-like flavor that is unique among salad greens. All the leaves are edible. It's a good winter producer and grows to a height of about 4'. Each plant needs about 2' of space when mature. Leaves may be constantly harvested. Always pick the older, lower leaves first. In spring it will provide you with a beautiful crop of yellow, daisy-like flowers that are a nice addition to a flower arrangement. It’s a beautiful, dual-purpose winter plant.” In Japan it's a traditional vegetable called shungiku.
Eliot Coleman suggestions that I've tried
Napoli carrots become sweet in the winter.
Kale. Coleman recommends Dwarf Scotch Curled Kale for winter, but I didn't find seeds so I bought Dwarf Dutch curled and it did great, raw or cooked. All the Ladakhi friends I gave some to asked for seeds. I also planted a mixed kale packet and that did fine too. Both got devastated by aphids as soon as the greenhouse warmed up in spring.
Lettuce. Coleman says the varieties called "butter" or "bibb" lettuce in the US do better than others in the greenhouse. I planted a mix and they all did fine and produced well, but in the overheating springtime in my greenhouse, the butter type was the only one that didn't get aphids, and it is only now starting to think about bolting.
Claytonia. I'd never seen this but bought seed on Colman's recommendation, and it's lovely. It produced all winter and is still alive though blooming, but still tender and tasty.
Arugula thrives but is always too hot and sharp when I grow it here, indoors or out, any time of year. It grew, produced and bolted before the lettuce even got as big as my thumb; both were seeded Sept 21.
Coleman recommends mache so I bought seed but didn't get germination.
My own discoveries
A local Ladakhi herb, Dracocephalum moldavica (Moldavian dragonhead), has been a superhit for me. It's lightly lemon-scented mint-family herb, tender textured like basil, but extremely cold hardy, germinating and growing even when nights go well below 0C, and staying nice and bushy for months if I keep pinching it. It makes a delicious and pretty salad herb, or I throw it in with other cooked greens. it self-seeded prolifically the first year when I let it go to seed; more came up so I didn't plant it again, and kept the current plants going from September till now (May) and they're still productive and healthy. It's very aphid resistant in my overheated springtime greenhouse.
Mustard greens. I seem to have thrown some mustard seeds into the mulch when I swept, a few years ago, and those mustard greens have been a very reliable and very cold-hardy prolific producer ever since. I've saved the seeds. It is so cold hardy and productive that I succession-seed it a few times in the autumn in different small plots. It makes an excellent sandwich green and an excellent cooking green, and a salad green best mixed with milder things. When it's growing faster than I can eat it, I mix it with salt and dill, and stuff into jars to ferment, and it makes an excellent sandwich filling on its own, wow!
Calendula flowers in the winter greenhouse are a great boost to winter moods.
Oregano does fine right through the winter in my greenhouse.
My local Dill seed seems to prefer to sprout in cold weather, and grows well over the winter in the greenhouse.
For me, chives, mint and lemon balm (Melissa) go yellow or die back in mid-winter, but start growing again in spring, and are nice and green now in May.
I've been experimenting with planting greens into shaded beds and trying nontraditional plants that can handle the summer heat and insects. Finally getting the nerve to taste the sweet potato greens, and finding them palatable might actually get us to year round greens here. If you have access to sweet potatoes, they produce abundant slips (short lengths of vine) given a glass of water and some bright light. That could be an option for winter green production.
i ll answer more detailed later. here s what we ve been starting to do since i posted:
- harvesting dandelion. we stirfried the blossoms and the leaves are being fermented
- trying to cook more nettle-dishes.
- sowing cilantro for inddoors
- ordering tree collar seeds
- putting sweet potatoe cuts into pots indoor, I ll plant the shoots outside when they re ready
- looking into seeds online. like red vein sorrel, good king henry
- making tea from black-berry leaves and strawberry leaves
- sowing some more cilantro, lambs lettuce and curly kale outside
the video more for commercial growing of greens in winter but has some useful insights.
this year has been weird in growing greens. many bolted in spring due to a hot weather period. and slugs ate a lot of what i ve sown. so we had very little of spinach, cilantro and lettuces.
swiss chard performed best so far. at the moment the sweet potatoes are producing lots of greens. they grow in a big tub inside the greenhouse. arugula is growing strongly at the moment. it selfseeded from the ones i ve sown in the spring.
i ve sown spinach. planted some kales. i started red vein sorrel indoors and need to plant it outside. i started claytonia inside, but it went to seed inside the tray. i ll use that seed outside soon. good king henry did not germinate (indoors). i want to sow some lambs lettuce outside and maybe some more lettuce.
- One of my green staples is both swiss chard, mustard greens and kales, which I let self-sown. Then, a continuity of greens to stir-fry between April and November. I like miner lettuce but it dies easily. In summer amaranth also provides greens, grain and biomass, a very useful plant.
- KALE is important, as it actually remains through the winter. Even if your climate is quite cold. Try for example siberian or red russian varieties. They are awesome. However they are not perennial but self-sowing.
- I am trying perennial kales and collards but they are not so cold hardy as the conventional kales.
- GOOD KING HENRY provides a perennial source of cooking greens throughout the year, including very early in spring. It is very cold-hardy. I look into other perennials like turkish rocket but I was not convinced.
- Better even are weeds like nettles and DANDELIONS provide cooking greens even during winter and also very cold-hardy.
- I am trying to look for a perennial winter-hardy salad, to eat raw. But I haven´t found one yet. Any ideas?
I tried some of them and they are still there after more than one year, but can't tell you more about it.
not even in cold frames or anything else, just planted straight into the ground, in raised beds, etc.
i actually get to take it for granted, a bit...because greens are one of the only things growing here that there is always too much of..i really should be very appreciative of how easy they are and always around.
if you go out to the garden anytime of year there will be more greens than we can eat. the perennial types, or some are perennial ish....and all the self seeding going on, after 8 years of gardening in those spots and getting all those greens established well in huge patches.... they now grow without any input, self seed or come back from the roots each year, and are in huge patches that supply abundant amounts of greens.
this time now, when the rains start again, and the weather cools, is when the greens really get going, producing harvests throughout the winter, and then into the spring and summer and following fall.
i grow lots of arugula, which self seeds and keeps hopping around the gardens in different spots at different times... also i have been throwing around a lot of arugula, chard, mustard greens and the hardiest of types into totally unprepared rocky/not good soil...all around in the yarden areas, even into the lawn...and have found they are able to grow and establish themselves even in those kinds of harsh, not pampered at all, conditions. well you start with a lot of seeds =) and maybe only a few survivors in the end...but i find these types of greens are able to grow in undesireable spots.
i am currently growing, or mostly self seeded types that keep volunteering each year or coming back from roots...
4 types of kale
lots of different types of mustard greens
flat leaf parsley
basil, love eating some of this fresh mixed in with fresh greens, and am still enjoying the last bits of it for this year..
and all the common herbs, chives, onion greens if those count. i harvest them and prepare them along with greens anyway ..
of course - lettuce, though thats done for the year and doesnt self seed as well as the others.
something i have been enjoying since it finally really got going is an ethiopian kale i have been growing for quite a while now.
many of the first year plants were small, very tasty, but didnt produce very much, until the second year the survivors really took off and are 7 ft tall now and producing huge amounts of greens. it also self seeded prolifically last year and the ones that are already finished, so i have high hopes for the new generation to be even better. or at least larger than the first years crop.
been trying to establish new zealand spinach, red malabar spinach, and various types of tulsi basil, and perennial basils, but its been tough with those. i may be just a bit too cold for most of these, so i put out some extra effort, keeping them small in pots and pampering them to see if i can get those to be perennial in this climate.
I am trying to look for a perennial winter-hardy salad, to eat raw. But I haven´t found one yet. Any ideas?
in Portugal, sheltered terraces facing eastwards, high water table, uphill original forest of pines, oaks and chestnuts. 2000m2
in Iceland: converted flat lawn, compacted poor soil, cold, windy, humid climate, cold, short summer. 50m2
What I am eating now as the base green for sallad is New Zealand spinach. Itis a vine that produces larger leaves in the shade or short days. It produces seed at the base of each leaf unless it produces a new branch at that point. Therefore it has abundant seed without slowing down the harvest of leaves. I mostly harvest from barrels in the north east corner of my greenhouse which are filled with dirt for thermal mass. During the summer they only get filtered sun through old darkened fiberglass roofing but get temperature swings from 40 100F This time of year the low sun angle allows some direct light. For ease of harvest and use of space it pays to have them growing from a high place where the vines can hang down When the vines get too close to the ground cut it back and let new vines develop and harvest the seed off the old vine.
In Portugal you may be able to grow it hanging over the east facing terrace walls. Su Ba in Hawaii grows it in the shade of her trees.
PM me if you can not find seed locally because I can always harvest some.
Sorrel, for shade too, perennial.
Sorrel seems to be a pioneer species on my place. Where ground is lacking soil it seems to pop up and form a net of roots and vines that covers the dirt; as soil begins to form the leaves get bigger and easier to pick. I like the sour accent in my salads. I carpet the dirt on the floor of my greenhouse and it came up along one edge next to a cherry tomato barrel, very convenient.