Planting Leafy Green Vegetables

Kenneth Sharpe  |  11/18/2016 7:34:48 PM

News Article for September 26, 2016:

There has been a hint of fall in the air. Lower humidity and lower night time temperatures are an improvement.

Along with planting wildlife food plots and cool season pastures for livestock, it is time to start the fall garden as well.

Greens are a mainstay in the fall garden. Mustard greens, turnips and collards can be planted now. The key is to get the small seeds planted without burying them and then thinning your stand so it is not too thick. Think about planting the seed the same depth as the diameter of the seed. For greens that is a very shallow planting depth. Once your seed emerge as plants pull out the excess plants and get your spacing to 1 to 2 inches for mustard, 2 to 6 inches for turnips and 6 to 12 inches for collards.

The old stand-by and still a very popular recommended variety of mustard greens would be Florida Broadleaf. You might also want to consider Tendergreen or Savannah. Red Giant is dark purplish red mustard with big leaves. If you like curly leaved varieties then try Southern Giant Curl or Green Wave.

Recommended collard varieties would include Blue Max, Champion, Top Bunch and Top Pick. Turnips provide both edible green tops and roots. If you are after green tops, Alamo, Topper, All Top and Seven Tops are good green producers. Purple Top is another traditional variety that is a good producer of tops and roots. Good root producers would include Globe, White Lady, Tokyo Cross and Royal Crown.

My only knowledge of spinach growing up was that Popeye ate it and it made him strong. That was the only way they could even get us to try the canned lunchroom variety. I had never had fresh spinach but what a difference. Spinach grows great in the garden and can be consumed fresh in a salad or in a sandwich, or cooked in an omelet or alone. Space spinach seeds 1 to 3 inches within the row. Melody is a great tasting spinach variety and easy to grow; also consider Ballet and Tiger Cat.

Kale is another green to grow and is considered to be a super food. It can be cooked and consumed like other greens, you can eat it fresh, I have seen baked kale chips and hear that people will grind it up and add it to smoothies. Kale plants get large like collards so space your plants out at 6 to12 inches within the row. Recommended varieties to plant would include Blue Yates and Blue Knight. Redbor is a kale variety that can be used as an ornamental plant. It needs a spacing of 12 to16 inches between plants and can reach a height of 30 inches tall. It has dark red deeply fringed and curled leaves that can be attractive in the back of a flower bed and it is edible.

Lettuce is another good plant to add to your green production and September and October are your best planting months. You can plant from seed but transplants are easier and faster. Space your plants out 10 to 15 inches for head types and 8 to12 for leaf lettuce. There are several different types of lettuce: Semihead, Leaf, Head and Romaine. Recommended varieties of Semihead include Butter-crunch, which is an All American Selection, Green Forest, Oak Leaf and ParisLeaf. Leaf varieties include Simpson Elite, Sierra, Nevada, and red varieties Red Fire and Red Salad Bowl. If you want head lettuce varieties try Ithaca, Maverick or Great Lakes. For Romaine varieties plant Cimarron, Green Towers or the dwarf variety, Bambi.

For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at www.lsuagcenter.com/livingston.

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