Considering we’ve all become master gardeners this year, continuing our expertise into winter should be easy! One of the perks of living in Zone 9 is year-round gardening, and winter is a great time for growing out nutrient-dense greens for salads, soups, pastas, and sautés.
If you aren’t familiar with your plant hardiness zone, use your zip code on this website to learn more. I also recommend checking out your local nursery or garden store, as they’ll usually stock seeds and transplants best for your area.
And last, look into your local Master Gardener chapter or extension service to see if they have any resources for gardening. Growing vegetable and green varieties best suited for your location’s climate is important, because you’ll get the best harvest that way!
Onto the glorious greens:
This is one of the most beautiful and prolific producers in a winter garden! Chard grows up from the base, which allows you to harvest larger leaves from the base throughout the season. Chard is great fresh in salads, in soups, or even quickly cooked as a side. Stems can be chopped and enjoyed as well.
Under appreciated, but so delicious. I find this green is best cooked. You can steam bok choy whole to maintain the beautiful shape, or cut the green tops form the white base and cook separately. Sauté white stems in a pan or cook down in a curry. Add greens last to keep color, texture, and flavor.
These large greens are a magical site in the garden, especially when it’s fully grown. And what can’t you do with cabbage? Stuffed cabbage rolls, sauerkraut, chopped salads, spicy slaw. You can use one large head of cabbage in so many ways, and they stay good in the crisper for longer than you expect! Once harvested, wash the head and wrap it in a moist tea towel to maintain freshness. Refresh the towel’s moisture frequently for even greater longevity.
These salad greens are easy to grow, but don’t last very long once ready. Eat them up quickly in a fresh garden salad with herbs and winter citrus. Try different varieties to add some garden color, like this beautiful Cosmic Crimson mix.
Similar to Swiss Chard, this large leaf green is great for cooking down as a side dish or in soups and stews. It’s also a great wrap alternative. Use it fresh and roll up some cooked vegetables or spicy rice dish.
I have a deep love to arugula, even though it’s a fairly tender green. It has a particularly sharp, green flavor. While it’s great for salad, it also packs a lot of fresh flavor when mixed into cream-sauce pasta, risotto with peas, or on top of pizza. Put it on everything!
You know her, you love her: spinach. Need a giant handful of nutrient-dense goodness? Here you go! Yeah, spinach is a salad staple, but have you ever had it with cook sweet potatoes and a fried egg? Maybe a spinach dip? Bake it in a quiche! Put it on a sandwich! Freeze it for smoothies! The possibilities are endless.
One of the more fun greens to grow. As you harvest form the base, the stalk grows taller and taller through the season and forms little kale trees, which looks like something straight out of Dr. Seuss. One great thing about growing your own kale? Those delicious kale chips are so cheap you may never go back. Make a kale caesar salad! Perhaps a kale and white bean stew?
Beautiful, sharp, slightly bitter, and the perfect size for stuffing it full of mozzarella and baking it til melty. And you thought greens were just nutritious?
Okay: hear me out. I know these are exactly greens, but they are so delicious! Spicy, crunchy, and gorgeous! Nasturtium will spill over the sides of any pot or garden bed throughout the season and well into spring. The older leaves will grow larger and larger, but the smaller ones have the best flavor. These little starburst beauties add a little bit of earth spice, like the flavor of a fresh radish, and look incredible as an accent on top of a dish. The flowers are edible, too!
Greens are a great way to mix up your winter vegetable garden. Varieties like Kale and Bok Choy are usually easy to grow. Tender greens like lettuce, spinach, and arugula require more dedicated care. You can even quick blanc greens like spinach and arugula and store them in the freezer for use later on. Be sure to quickly blanch, immediate cool in an ice bath, and space them out in a container so they’re easier to remove when frozen.
Do you have anything growing in your garden? Let us know!
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