6 tips for a more bountiful harvest of greens

Spinach and other greens can offer plenty of leaves for salads and more during the summer. Here's some tips on growing healthy spinach plants and more.

6 tips for a more bountiful harvest of greens

1. Know your greens

  • Spinach, chard, mustard greens, kale and collards belong to a group of vegetables loosely referred to as "greens."
  • Greens are cool-weather crops. In hot weather, they'll "bolt," or produce seeds and stop growing.
  • Greens are resistant to cold. If they're given a thick mulch cover, will thrive through a few light frosts.
  • In warmer areas, gardeners often substitute Malabar spinach or New Zealand spinach. Both are unrelated to true spinach but have a similar taste.
  • Spinach, Swiss chard and mustard greens have the same soil and nutrient needs: a nonacid soil with a pH of 6–7.5, enriched with organic matter and high in nitrogen.

2. Prepare the soil

  • To prepare beds for greens, dig the soil as soon as the ground can be worked.
  • Incorporate up to 35 litres (37 quarts) of rotted manure or compost for every five square metres (18 square feet), plus a few handfuls of fish meal.

3. Plan for succession sowing

  • Sow seeds in furrows one centimetre (half an inch) deep, spaced 35 centimetres (14 inches) apart.
  • Spinach matures quickly — in 40 to 50 days — and bolts easily.
  • Plant short rows and make succession sowings every 10 days, until daytime temperatures reach a consistent 21°C.
  • Start succession plantings in late August for harvesting through the fall.

4. Thin and carefully harvest when ready

  • Thin the newly emerged seedlings to stand eight centimetres (three inches) apart.
  • When the leaves of plants touch, pull up every other plant and use it for salad.
  • The final thinning should leave the plants about 25 centimetres (10 inches) apart.
  • When the plants are 15 to 20 centimetres (six to eight inches) high, water them well with a fish fertilizer solution.
  • Be sure to weed regularly and keep plants thoroughly watered.
  • Begin culling the outside leaves as soon as they reach edible size. Harvest the entire plant when buds start to form in its center.

5. Treat Malabar and New Zealand spinach differently

  • Malabar spinach is trained to grow up a fence or trellis. It takes very little space and produces edible leaves in about 70 days.
  • When all danger of frost is past, sow the seeds one centimetre (half an inch) deep and about eight centimetres (four inches) apart.
  • New Zealand spinach also does well in warm weather. Sow the seeds in pots indoors, first soaking the seeds overnight. Leave them in a cool place. When sprouts appear, clip off all but each pot's strongest seedling.
  • Set the plants out about two weeks before the last expected frost.
  • New Zealand spinach can spread about one metre (four feet) across, so give it plenty of room.
  • About 60 to 70 days after planting outdoors, the leaves and growing tips can be cut off and eaten. The more you cut, the more the plant will grow.

6. Know what can go wrong

  • Spinach is often afflicted with a mosaic virus, or blight, that causes the leaves to yellow. To avoid it, buy resistant varieties.
  • If aphids attack, it's best to spray the plant with insecticidal soap.
  • Hand-pick and destroy the leaves attacked by leaf miners.

Greens come in all shapes and sizes, but they need relatively similar attention when grown. If you take special care to keep them healthy, your greens could show up in many of your summer salads.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Close menu