Gourmet garden

first_imgBy George BoyhanUniversity of GeorgiaGourmet salad greens don’t have to cost a fortune. You can easily grow your own.Most salad greens are cool-weather crops. Depending on where yougarden in Georgia, you can start sowing salad green seeds inAugust and continue every week through late October.Seeds of salad greens are sold as mixes or separately. The mixesmay contain any combination of lettuces and greens. Some aretangy. Others are mild or bitter. Combine them with a zestydressing, and the salad is no longer something that’s just goodfor you.Arugula has a toasty, pungentflavor and is a favorite for mixes. It’s rich in beta caroteneand higher in vitamin C than almost any other salad green.Endive is in the same family aslettuce. With smooth, pale, long heads, it has more flavor thanmany lettuces. Curly endive, sometimes called chicory, has curlyedged, green leaves.Escarole has broad, wavy greenleaves with a pleasant, slightly bitter flavor.Radicchio, or red chicory, addscolor and mildly bitter flavor to salads.Mache, also called corn salad, has velvety leaves and a mild taste.Watercress has pungent sprigs that look like parsley. Cresses have a peppery flavor, while mustards “bite” your tongue.How to grow themPlant salad green seeds a quarter-inch deep in rows 18 to 24inches apart. You can space them as close as 6 to 12 inches ifyou plan to harvest young, immature leaves.To keep those fresh salads coming, plant about 5 feet per weekthrough the fall.Salad greens can be grown in semishade but do best with at least3 to 4 hours of sun. Fertilize your greens moderately with oneside-dressing. The growing season for lettuce varies with thecultivar. Most will be ready to harvest within 40 to 60 days.Head lettuce will take longer to form a head.Harvest the greens with scissors when they’re young. Cut theyoung leaves a half-inch to an inch above the soil and the leavesmay regrow for a second harvest. Or cut them at ground level fora single harvest.Seed sourcesHere are some seed companies that offer gourmet salad-green seeds for home gardeners: Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 955 Benton Avenue, Winslow, Me.04901 (207) 861-3900 (www.johnnyseeds.com)Nichols Garden Nursery, 1190 Old Salem Road NE, Albany, OR97321-4580 (www.nicholsgardennursery.com/)Territorial Seed Company, P.O. Box 158, Cottage Grove, OR97424-0061 (800) 626-0866 (www.territorial-seed.com/stores/1/index.cfm)The Cook’s Garden, P.O. Box C5030, Warminster, PA 18974(catalog $1) (800) 457-9703 (www.cooksgarden.com) (George Boyhan is a Cooperative Extension horticulturist withthe University of Georgia College of Agricultural andEnvironmental Sciences. Wayne McLaurin, professor emeritus ofhorticulture with UGA Extension, contributed to this article.)last_img

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