Saturday, October 1, 2011

Growing Gourmet Salad Greens

Red Streaked Mizuna

Mizuna is a mild tasting mustard green. It can be grown in Kihei except during our hottest months. It works very well in baby mesclun mixes with lettuce as it grows at about the same pace. When grown to maturity, it will bolt in the summer months. Mizuna grows well in full sun or with full sun in the morning and partial shade in the afternoon.

Baby Blood Veined Sorrel

Sorrel grows best in a cooler climate. I've been able to grow it in Kihei if I plant the seeds in partial shade from November or December. Sorrel has a lemony taste and it's used in French cuisine.

Blood Veined sorrel looks different than the typical green sorrels and it's the most tender when the leaves are small. I don't recommend adding Blood Veined seeds into mesclun mixes as it grows much slower than lettuce.

Osaka Purple Mustard & Red Russian Kale
Grown as baby greens.

Mustard greens are cool season greens and tend to be spicy. Although they're added into spicy mesclun seed mixes, most varieties of mustard grow at a much faster pace than the lettuces in the mix. Mustard greens work well in a baby green mix with kale seeds and they can be grown in full sun.

Italiko Rosso

Italiko Rosso is in the chicory family and it will grow year round in Kihei. So far, it hasn't bolted and gone to seed, even when grown through the summer months. Italiko Rosso had beautiful, striking merlot colored stems and grew at the same pace as lettuce making it a good choice in a spicy baby mesclun mix. Italiko Rosso can be grown in full sun.

Arugula is a peppery cool season green that's a bit more heat tolerant than lettuce but it does bolt in our warm weather.There are many varieties of arugula and it combines well in mixes with lettuce. I plant arugula in an area with full sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon to minimize bolting but it can be grown in full sun.

Gnocchi with Fresh Arugula Walnut Pesto

Baby romaines and densely planted Vit Mache
Gourmet Seed and The Natural Gardening Company

Mache is like most varieties of spinach - it's heat sensitive and grows better in a colder climate. I've planted Medallion and Vit and was able to grow Vit successfully as a baby green during our coolest months. It grew with full sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon.

I recommend covering the mache bed with tulle or screen as soon as the seeds are planted and until the seeds sprout and begin to grow. The birds go crazy over mache seeds and they'll make a mess digging in the potting soil. I plant the seeds densely and used it as a baby green.

With the exception of mache, all of the greens can be grown as cut and come again baby greens and planted from October through March. It's best to plant mache from December through January and pull it when it reaches the ideal size.

A Spicy Mesclun Mix

All of these greens can be planted in containers with a soil depth of at least 5 inches. I plant the seeds in a natural and organic potting soil amended with green sand and azomite. They usually need daily water and twice monthly applications of fish emulsion.

The biggest pest that affects most all of the greens is the cabbageworm. For more information, see my posts on Cabbageworms.

Greens I've planted but haven't been successful with were Bulls Blood Beet greens and Purple Shiso. They germinated but hardly grew. This fall I'll trail other varieties of beets and I'll plant Purple Shiso one more time.

A New Meaning to Garden Variety
Jamie Oliver's Summer Salad - part 1
Jamie Oliver's Summer Salad - part 2


  1. Beautiful greens. I haven't grown sorrel in years. I planted mache for the first time earlier this week in the cold frame bed. I am sure that I will have to sow it again. It's has been raining buckets all week!

  2. Good topic Jane. Greens are so expensive and poor quality at the store and so easy to grow at home. They make a great gateway crop : )
    There's a company that divides their mesclun mix into two packets. Pkt#1 contains the slower growers in the mix and the directions are to plant it a few weeks in advance of Pkt#2. I think it might be Frank Morton's company. Such a clever idea.
    Like you i find that beets almost aren't worth growing just for salad greens. They take a long time to get growing and the window for the smaller leaves is really short.
    That last container of mesclun is pretty enough to be given away as a gift!

  3. Hi Robin! Mache should grow beautifully in your cool fall climate. Wow you've had your share of radical weather this year - I hope you have a beautiful fall to make up for hurricane Irene!

    Hi Julie! You're right about greens - I rarely buy them for this same reason. This year, I let the chard, mizuna and Italiko Rosso I planted last October grow as I was hoping to get them to go to seed. The baby leaves were decent salad greens during the summer. Eventually the mizuna bolted but to my amazement the chard and Italiko are still growing.

    That's a great idea having 2 packs of seeds for a mesclun mix! I didn't think about staggering the planting dates...duh..I'll have to try it this month.

  4. All my mixed greens, kale, mustard ect get this little white grub/worm with a black head that like to live in the center of the plant where new growth starts. I have tried to check everyday to keep under control but it's too much work. Pluse it's really small untell it's dined for a day or two then its fat and larger. I'll be watching everything grow and think there doing well and when I go to harvest a few leaves realize nothing new is growing. Arugula seams to be less affected.

    1. Take a photo and email it to me if you can. Arugula is in the mustard family and the bugs in my neighborhood don't normally bother the mustard greens.