Here’s a question for you. Do you enjoy greens fresh from the garden?

In season, they’re great, especially cut and come again types like leaf lettuce, arugula, mustard, and others. Of course, you can buy them in supermarkets, head lettuce and leaf lettuce, and mixes that might be wonderful and healthy, but might also have been sprayed past all belief.

Right now, you’ve doubtless plenty of garden space. Green beans have been picked and picked again, torn up and consigned to the compost pile. Potatoes have been dug, and sweet corn eaten or placed in the freezer, and there’s lots of room for those with a mower to cut down weeds and stalks, and a rototiller to put those weeds and stalks under for gradual decay.

Even if you’ve no garden or extra space, the flower beds have mostly shown their glory and what remains is dying and brown. Reason enough to plant a few seeds there and harvest some lovely greens. There are lots of choices. You might thumb through a handy catalog and select All-American Selection winners like Red Sails, Buttercrunch, Ruby, and Salad Bowl.

Even if you start them late, types like the various Romaines can take the cold, lettuces like Arctic King and Winter Marvel. And there are plenty of ways to go. You might sow each type of seed separately, making shallow rows, dropping seed, and adding some 10 – 10- 10, then covering just slightly with a twist of the hoe end. You might mix the seeds too, as I often do, creating my own personal Mesclun blend. When I do this, I rototill thoroughly, add fertilizer, then broadcast the seeds in an 18 – 24 inch wide swath across the garden , and rake lightly. They’ll need some thinning, and there are two ways to go with this practice. You might pull up plants at random for an instant salad of baby greens. Or just thin them, hurrying down the garden space and jerking up plants at random, use or not. Myself, I almost never thin anything. I’m lazy, I guess, but as a biologist I believe in natural selection and survival of the fittest. The best and most vigorous will survive and thrive, and produce plenty of garden greens, more than I can usually use. The weakest will die out, or at least fail to thrive. I don’t really care, since I’ll have more than I can eat, thin them or not.

While you’re planting fall lettuce and perhaps mustard, and endive, do remember to plant a half row or so of Swiss chard. This is a delicious green that grows rapidly to be a foot tall or better. Last year I planted a tiny row just four feet long, picked it as often as I wished, and had the plants come back again and again until freezing days came. This year I’ve another short row and have hopes of repeating the business. Don’t forget that Swiss chard is a tough plant, at least in respect to its ability to withstand cold temperatures. Plant types like Bright Lights, and you’ll have a plant as good as spinach with ribs that run the gamut from silver to gold, orange, pink, and red. Plant it in your flower bed and it’ll look good. Plant it in the garden and it’ll be the same. I pressure cook the leaves with a bit of bacon and a touch of vinegar, and enjoy every bite.

There are other greens and other fall vegetables that can still be planted. A good friend of mine loves to plant fall radishes, the white ones with long roots. They grow rapidly, and when mature he scrapes off the skin which can be “hot”, slices the root, and eats it with bread and butter on a sandwich. They must be tasty – he’s been planting them each fall for at least 30 years.

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