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Southern Greens

The cornerstone of traditional Southern cooking and kitchen gardens, these leafy green vegetables include Mustard Greens, Collard Greens, Kale and Turnip Greens. Customarily simmered for hours with salt pork or ham hocks, the best way to preserve their wonderful flavors, textures and color is to quickly braise or saute them in olive oil and Garlic. Most Southern Greens prefer cool weather, although Collard Greens are wonderfully tolerant of summer heat. Direct sow Collard, Mustard and Turnip Greens outdoors in the early spring as soon as the soil can be worked and in the late summer for fall harvest.

Average seed life: 4 years.

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Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips: Hail to the Hardy Greens
Most garden greens can hardly wait for cool weather to come. They perk up and sweeten up as the mugginess of August fades away. Crops such as Spinach, Arugula, Claytonia and Mâche, if protected by a cold frame or simple unheated greenhouse, survive the winter in cold climates, to be cut and re-cut for a continuous harvest. Sow them in September in the north, October in warmer parts of the country. They do best hunkering down, close to the earth. Lettuce and Endive over-winter best when cut at baby leaf size rather than full-sized heads.

Kale, Collards and Brussels Sprouts fare better if grown to full size and left outdoors to soldier on as long as they can, since they do not re-grow if cut back in winter. We can often harvest them for our Christmas table, even in snowy Maine.

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