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How do I grow leafy, salad vegetables?
Leafy vegetables are some of our best sources of minerals and vitamins. They are good cooked or fresh in tossed salads. Spinach is a favorite leafy vegetable either cooked or raw. Swiss chard is fine as a cooked green but unless you harvest the leaves when quite small they may be too tough for salads. Young beet leaves are just as tasty as chard. Collards, kale and mustard if growing rapidly and harvested before the leaves are too old, make some of the tastiest and most nutritious cooked greens.
All of these leafy green vegetables prefer cool moist growing conditions. Start them in early spring for summer harvests and start in July for fall harvest. Seed leafy vegetables in the spring as soon as the soil is dry enough to work. Thin spinach and mustard to stand 2 to 3 inches apart. Chard, kale and collard should stand at least 6 inches apart.
Harvest spinach and mustard by cutting and removing entire plants as they reach full size. Harvest only the lower outer leaves from chard, collards and kale before they are more than 6 to 8 inches long. New leaves continue to grow from the center of these plants.