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Greens are EASY!

Find a few containers that you can move around easily, even when filled with moist soil. Pick your “poison”. Spinach, lettuce, arugula, mesclun mixes, chard and mustard greens can all be grown in the earliest parts of the season with little effort and because these are a cool season veggies, there are no heat mats or excessive warmth required for germination.

I like to use a high quality organic potting soil or a sterilized seedling mix to start my seeds. Fill your vessels to about one inch below the rim and moisten soil evenly. Wile pre-moistening the soil for greens is not absolutely necessary, greens seeds are typically very small and are sown shallow most varieties are sewn no deeper than about 1/8 of an inch, this method keeps seeds from floating out of dry soil or being pushed into the soil too far to germinate. In smaller pots only sew a few seeds per pot because you will need to thin your seedlings later on.

Germination typically happens within 7-14 days with even moisture and good light. In our area, pots can be put outside in the sun on warmer days and brought in at night. In cooler areas, a bright sunny window will do just fine. As seeds emerge and are about ½” to 1” high thin your seedlings to allow for some growing room. Keep in mind, the directions on most of your seed packets are for row plantings so you’ll need to “wing it” a bit in your containers. I actually like to see the containers get fairly full because it forces harvesting when the plants are a little younger and very tender and sweet. I try to stick with leaf varieties as opposed to head varieties of lettuces, however, I have grown 3-4 heads of buttercrunch lettuce nicely in a 20” pot on casters for easy moving.

This is a great project for kids because there is almost guaranteed success. It’s also a way encourage sustainable living and healthy eating habits. Maybe eating your spinach won’t seem so bad if you grow it yourself!

By Jennifer Timms Hobson, originally published January 17, 2012

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