The First Leafy Greens Harvest of the Season

by Marina Ingrit

Yes I did, and almost a month early! It’s a pretty good one, too.

There are two reasons for the advanced harvest. One is that we’ve had a fairly mild March so far. Temperatures have gone above zero Celsius a number of times, for longer periods of time. As a result, plants kept under the hoophouse I installed last fall have been able to come out of dormancy early and are producing fresh leaves. The hoophouse build I construct is very affordable and surprisingly tenacious, all things considered. It was flattened a few times during particularly heavy snow storms and Davin had to very nearly reconstruct it about a month ago.

Because of some of the early warm days, I failed to water underneath and the kale was burned. Otherwise, it’s done a fine job as always and there’s already some self-seeded lettuce and mustard greens coming up in addition to the perennials and biennials that were advanced enough to harvest.

A small quantity of greens came from warmer parts of the garden where the sun shines more brightly and the ground is higher. For example, I foraged some garlic mustard that is growing in my neighbours’ yard, but has been pushing through the fence. They have lots on their side. I’d love to get over there to pick it, but we don’t have that sort of relationship. In the late fall I installed a few cloches and smaller, makeshift shelters for random edibles grown both in the soil and in the ground that I wanted to keep harvesting from later into the season or protect in case they were not hardy enough to survive. And example is Korean perennial celery (Dystaenia takesimana). This plant is supposed to be hardy, but I just wasn’t sure if that meant down to my zone, which is around 6ish. I’ve grown a wide range of different types of celeries and parsley and this is by far the most delicious tasting I’ve tried. I really wanted it to make it through to the spring. Next fall I will take a chance and overwinter outside without protection, but since I’m already able to harvest from the plant I covered, I don’t regret taking the extra precaution. I got the seed from Experimental Farm Network.

What’s in this harvest: Kale, chicory (radicchio), stinging nettle, garlic mustard, oregano (I sell seed from my plants), Mizspoona (seed from Wild Garden Seed), Egyptian Walking onion (a perennial onion), garlic chives (I also sell these seed), flat leaf and curly leaf parsley, Korean perennial celery, bloody dock, dandelion.

It feels so good to get the salad spinner out to wash my first greens forage of the season. As I’ve mentioned many times through the years, the leafy greens are my most coveted food crop. We eat them in abundance and I depend on them to diversify my diet and bump up nutrient intake after a winter of flaccid leaves from the shops. I am a very happy person right now!

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Here’s a complete list of every leafy green grown in my harvest in 2017. Somehow I manage to keep expanding on this list every year.

– And here’s photographic documentation of every harvest made that year. I try to capture as many as I can through each growing season and post them to my Instagram account under the hashtag #yougrowgirlgreens.

How I prepare beds for early spring planting

Lettuce and salad greens growing guide

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