Gorgeous cooking greens including chard, collards and kale are super-nutritious and easy to grow. The plants are so productive that they deserve top billing in your fall vegetable garden. You only need a few of each type to grow a fresh supply.
Prepare space for fall greens by using a spade or digging fork to cultivate the soil three to four inches deep. Mix in a standard application of an organic vegetable fertilizer, following label directions on how much to apply.
Super-Nutritious and Gorgeous Greens to Try Now:
- Swiss chard. Rarely stressed by summer heat, colorful chard plants are as tender as spinach when cooked. The plants get quite large and need frequent harvesting, so allow at least 14 inches between plants. Available in many colors, maximize contrast by placing chard plants with yellow, white or pink stems in front of seedlings that show darker red, orange or magenta stem colors.
- Collard greens. Collard greens are at their best when grown in the fall. They are remarkably mild and tender compared to those sold in stores. Try a few plants and enjoy fresh greens from fall to early winter. Plant in full sun in rows three feet apart and 18 inches between plants.
- Kale. Cold weather improves the flavor and texture of kale, the most cold-hardy green you can grow. Varieties with slightly frilled leaves are popular and productive, or you can try Tuscan kale. Red kales are an option, too, but exposure to sun and short, cold days are needed to deepen their red colors. Plant seedlings eight to 12 inches apart in well-drained, light soil.
- Try all three. Make the most of the varied textures and colors available in greens by growing different types in groups or adjacent rows. Look for appealing matches when choosing seedlings of chard, collards and kale. Robust, large-leafed collards make surprising anchor plants for the outer edges of busy beds, while the waffled texture of dark green Tuscan kale turns the plants into instant focal points.
Tip: Trim the edges of your greens garden with upright bok choy, red mustard or lacy leaf lettuce for a display that’s almost too pretty to eat.