YOU FORGOT THE GREENS!
When living in the Arctic or Sub-arctic regions of the world,
freshly-picked greens are virtually unheard of in grocery stores.
They are usually 4 to 7 days old. That in itself is a great reason
to grow a garden. When you grow a garden, greens should be an important
part of that garden. The greens group discussed here includes such vegetables
as Spinach, Swiss Chard, Kale, Collards, Mustard, and Beets and Turnips
when grown for their greens.
There are numerous reasons why greens should be included in any arctic
garden. They are the easiest of all vegetables to grow - mustard is so
prolific it is almost a weed. They all come up quickly in cold soils and
are ready for harvest in a few short weeks. After a long arctic winter
they are also the earliest, and can be planted as soon as the ground thaws
and can be worked in the spring. This group of vegetables can withstand
some frost so they can be planted before the danger of frost is past and
will be among the first crops harvested. They are also inexpensive to grow
because they are easily grown directly in the garden from seed. This group
is also easy to grow as transplants when that extra early crop is desired.
Of all the garden vegetables, greens are one of the most neglected because
many gardeners forget to plant them. This is a mistake because they are
extremely nutritious. They are high in vitamins A and C and high in minerals
such as calcium and iron. Freshly picked greens from your garden are best
because they have a higher nutritional value than store-bought. Store-bought
vegetables are not as good for you because the longer a vegetable is stored
before it is eaten, the greater its vitamin loss.
In many ways greens are grown like salad crops. In fact some greens,
such as spinach, are grown in many gardens primarily for salad greens.
These easy to grow varieties all have fairly good-sized seeds, but should
be planted shallow, not more than 1/4 inch deep, to take advantage of the
warmer surface soil. Remember that shallow planting requires more watering
to keep the seed moist until the seedlings are up. Because greens are grown
for their foliage, they require a little more nitrogen than most garden
vegetables. An application of 2 to 3 pounds of a 20-10-10 plant food per
100 square feet should be adequate, but if the plants still have a pale
color, apply a second application.
Because greens have an attractive and often colorful foliage, they are
of ornamental value. When space is very limited, consider mixing greens
with flowers for an attractive and functional bed or border, instead of
planting them in rows in the garden.
Recommended varieties: Boltardy, Cylindra, Ruby Queen
Beets are usually grown for their enlarged dark red tap root. Since
the seed is really a fruit made up of several seeds they produce many young
seedlings that will need thinning. The reddish green leafy tops of the
excess plants are excellent cooked as greens and are high in iron. Beets
are easy to grow, but should be grown quickly with plenty of moisture and
fertilizer. Before planting, soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours.
Since beets are cold hardy the seeds may be planted 2 to 3 weeks before
the frost-free date as the seedlings will tolerate a light frost. In the
colder regions of Alaska the tap root may not develop but the leaves will
make excellent greens.
Recommended variety: Vates
A member of the cabbage family that does not head and is a close relative
of kale. Unlike kale, collards like hot weather. They grow fairly well
in most of Alaska, but in very cold areas substitute kale. Collards is
a southern dish and the edible portion is the rosette of leaves that resemble
cabbage leaves. A light frost will improve the flavor of collards.
Recommended variety: Red Russian
A member of the cabbage family, kale is very cold hardy. The young
thinnings are very good to eat and the fall frosts improve the flavor of
mature leaves. Kale is rich in vitamin A, thiamine and ascorbic acid. Kale
is usually eaten cooked. Creamed new potatoes and kale is a favorite dish
in many parts of the country.
Recommended variety: Tendergreen
An extremely easy, cold tolerant, fast growing, spinach-like annual
herb that is commonly grown for its spicy, young, tender leaves, used in
salads and as a cooked vegetable. Mustard is the first vegetable to be
harvested in a spring garden. The mature plant may become weedy and should
be pulled before it goes to seed. Mustard should be planted several times
for a continuous crop. It will withstand frost well. Try adding the spicy
leaves to a tasty Italian omelet, or lightly saute the leaves in butter
or bacon drippings.
Recommended varieties: Bloomsdale, Melody
Spinach is the touchiest of all greens in Alaska because it readily
goes to seed under our long days. Planting in early May and late July with
the recommended varieties will produce a satisfactory crop that will hold
several days, usually 4 to 7, upon reaching maturity before it goes to
seed. Plant as soon as the ground can be readied in spring as the seedlings
will tolerate a light frost. Make multiple plantings for a longer spring
and fall season. For best results keep the plants growing fast with plenty
of water and fertilizer. When harvesting, cut the entire plant and use
in your favorite dishes such as a salad, spinach pie, creamed spinach,
spinach soup, or a cheesy spinach souffle. Spinach is one of the most popular
and versatile greens.
Recommended varieties: Fordhook Giant, Rhubarb
Swiss Chard is one of the best and most popular greens in Alaska. It
is a leaf beet that does not produce a tap root and is grown strictly for
its greens. Rhubarb Chard, a ruby leaved variety, is very ornamental as
well as a source of excellent greens. Chard is much easier to grow than
spinach and in most cases can be substituted in cooked dishes. The plants
are very leafy, they need to be thinned to 6 inches apart. Harvesting may
begin as soon as the outer leaves are six inches long and the same plants
will continue to produce greens all season. Chard should be used immediately
after picking because the leaves wilt quickly. Some people remove the white
stalks of Fordhook Giant from the leaves and serve them like asparagus.
Also try rolling the leaves with a ground meat filling and bake with your
favorite mushroom or tomato sauce.
Recommended varieties: Petrowski, Purple Top and White Egg
Turnips are like beets, usually grown for the enlarged tap root, and
like beets the tops make excellent greens. Unlike the other greens turnips
have large hairy leaves which are served cooked. Turnips are also a cool
season crop and may be planted as soon as the ground can be worked. Turnips
are an excellent arctic crop used for greens in summer and the roots
stored for the winter. In many parts of Alaska the fall planting must be
made before July 1 to mature before winter. Turnips are the only greens
crop bothered by insects in Alaska and must be protected against root maggots.
Try a stir fry with turnip greens in sesame oil, for a crisp vegetable
in oriental dishes or in a combination meat dish.
Recommended variety: Seven Top
Grown for it’s leaves this variety produces dark green, cut-leaf, 18
to 22 inch tops that are delicious, the number one vegetable for nutrition,
will grow nearly anywhere and are ready for harvest in just 40 days after
planting in Alaska. The roots of this variety are not edible.
Turnips grown for greens prefer cool weather and produce high quality greens
in Alaska. Turnips are frost tolerant and can be planted as soon
as the soil can be prepared and has warmed in the spring. Choose
a sunny location with any good garden soil, cultivate, enrich with plant
food, rake the soil surface smooth then plant seed directly in the garden,
firm soil over seed and keep moist until seedlings emerge. In Alaska
plant a short row of turnips for greens every 2 weeks through mid July
to provide tender, young leaves all summer. Turnips MUST be protected
from root maggots. Thin turnips so the plants are 4 to 5 inches apart
when they are young and use the plants thinned out for delicious greens.
For tender, mild greens keep soil moist, weed free and apply plant food
3 weeks after the plants are up. Pick the outer leaves when the plants
are young and cut the entire plant when it gets to be 12 inches tall.
The trick to serving good nutritious greens is to cook them quickly
and in as little water as possible, preferably in a steamer. Cook leafy
greens about 1 to 3 minutes, just until they wilt. Greens will make your
meals exciting and nutritious.
2 cups greens, chopped and cooked
1 small onion, minced
2 cups milk
4 eggs, beaten
salt and garlic powder to taste
Mix all together, put in a greased casserole, put cheese cubes and
butter on top. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Greens and Cheese Puffs
A great munchie to make ahead. Makes about 4 dozen appetizers.
2 cups freshly chopped greens
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup water
2 eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons blue cheese dressing
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 81/2 ounce package corn muffin mix
1. Combine greens, onion and water in a small saucepan, bring to boil
and cook 10 minutes. Drain well, squeezing to remove excess liquid.
2. Add remaining ingredients, stirring well. Cover and chill at least
3. Roll mixture into 1 inch balls and place 1 ½ inches apart
on lightly greased baking sheets. Chill at least 30 minutes before
baking. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, serve warm.
Wilted Greens with Bacon Dressing
4 cups loosely packed greens, chopped if large
1 small onion, chopped
4 slices bacon, cut up
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
Fry bacon until crisp. Add vinegar, salt and pepper, and bring to a
simmer. Pour sauce over greens and onions. Or add greens and onions to
sauce. Cook over low heat until limp, serve immediately.