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In the summer of 2019, I received two visions from God that led me to prepare for a coming catastrophe. It’s April 2020, and coronavirus has swept the earth. God loves us, cares for us, and desires a relationship with us, even in the midst of suffering.

lettuce bowl

Let’s be real, buying greens from the supermarket is like tossing money into the trash. Unless you use your greens right away, they wilt, lose flavor, and spoil. When I started to grow greens in my garden, I was amazed at how easy it was and how interesting and tasty my salads had become.

Greens can be grown almost all year round, depending on which varieties you grow and where you live. Traditional salad greens tend to favor cooler weather, and many greens are hardy through the winter. Also, greens can be grown in shadier areas of the yard, under the canopy of a tree, and as an addition to your landscaping for edible aesthetics. Here are ten tips on how to keep the greens coming…and coming.

  1. Don’t grow lettuce. I live in zone 7a, and my lettuce either attracts aphids or bolts. I have tried to grow many varieties of lettuce and haven’t had much luck. If you live in a cooler climate or have great success with lettuce, then please, go on and grow that romaine. There are other greens you should also consider growing because they are hardy, yummy, and slow to bolt. Some of my favorites include
    -Mustard greens – I grow red giant, which is great in salads. Harvest the leaves when young, as they are more tender and sweet. This is a good rule of thumb when harvesting most greens.
    -Kale – Withstands frost and some varieties can reseed themselves, like scarlet kale.
    -Cabbage and – Cold hardy, prolific, great in salad, cooked, or fermented as sauerkraut.
    -Collards – Yummy and cold hardy.
    -Bok Choi – A prolific and hardy lettuce-like cabbage. Great in salad, soup, and stir-fry. Mine bolted after a hard frost, but the flowers and the stalks are also edible. The flowers were lovely, honey-like in flavor, and make a colorful addition to salad. Bok Choi can grow in complete shade, though it takes much longer.
    -Arugula – Prolific, cold hardy, and delicious in almost any dish, even as a pizza topping or mixed in with eggs. I grow rocket arugula, which is perennial.
    -Spinach – Cold hardy, versatile, tasty.
    -Microgreens – Packed with nutrition, a quick harvest, can be used in many recipes or as a garnish. I like to grow pea and radish greens.
  2. Use clear plastic clothing bins or a grow tunnel to cover your greens in winter. Basically, create a mini greenhouse for your greens. They should grow all winter if under a cover unless you’re in a really cold (or really hot) climate. If you use clothing bins, weight them down with a rock or a brick to keep them from blowing across the lawn on windy days.
  3. Use a shade cloth or grow greens in shadier areas of the yard in the summer. Hot summers cause many greens to bolt. You can prevent bolting, or at least stave it off for a while by using or creating shade for your greens. Shade can help to elongate your summer harvest. And bolting is actually a good thing if you are looking to save seeds.
  4. Grow self-seeding greens. Some greens, like claytonia, also known as miner’s lettuce will reseed themselves if you let them go to seed. Claytonia is also one of the most cold hardy greens you can grow. Spinach and mustard greens also seed themselves.
  5. Save seeds. Let a few of your crops go to seed and then collect those seeds for planting a new crop.
  6. Plant seeds in succession and grow them in various locations to stagger your harvest. Grow greens everywhere, as in all over the yard, and plant them at different times to stagger their readiness. Greens planted in shadier areas will grow more slowly. You can also plant seeds successively to prolong your harvest season.
  7. Plant high intensity. High intensity simply means planting a bunch of greens very close to each other. Here is a video from MIgardener on how to do that.
  8. Use the cut-and-come-again method for harvesting. Never uproot your greens. Simply cut off the leaves you want to eat. Most greens will regrow themselves if you do this. I ate out of the same garden bed for over four months using this method, and on some days, I even harvested two salads. My bed for greens was pretty small too, like 2X5. Here is another video from MIgardener on how to use cut-and-come-again.
  9. Plant veggies, trees, and bushes with edible greens. Many easy-to-grow veggies produce edible greens, such as beets, carrots, shallots, garlic, and radishes. You don’t have to grow a perfect beet to get good beet greens from your garden. Make sure not to eat toxic greens, which some common veggies produce. You can also plant trees or bushes with edible leaves, such as goji and yellowhorn. Please do not eat leaves from trees unless you’re sure they are edible, as many tree leaves are toxic. Also, for tender greens, harvest leaves when they are young.
  10. Eat weeds. Weeds grow all times of the year, and many of them are edible. PLEASE research well before you go foraging, and never eat anything unless you’re one-hundred percent sure it isn’t poisonous. I’m a fan of daylilies (not regular lilies, which are poisonous), chickweed, dead nettle, and dandelion greens.

When winter rolled around, I was kind of blue about the slowing of activity in my food forest. While my planting and harvesting has slowed, I have found many other ways to keep on with the homesteading. Here is a short list of activities I’ve been doing, dream about doing, or plan to do, this winter.

  1. Ordering bushes, trees, seeds, and plants for spring.. I am most excited about planting elderberries, service berries, salmonberries, thimbleberry, huckleberries, wintergreen mulberries, Chinese Magnolia, a mulberry tree, and a jujube tree. I have also ordered dozens of perennial and annual seeds.
  2. Preparing new beds for Spring. I mostly use the Back to Eden, or lasagna, method for my beds. I will also be experimenting with pulling up and flipping turf, much to my grass-loving husband’s chagrin.
  3. Clearing ivy to make room for a shaded berry patches.
  4. Researching the proper growing conditions for everything I will be planting. Thank you to all of the amazing and generous gardeners on YouTube who freely share their knowledge.
  5. Planning where I am going to place new bushes, trees, and plants. You would be surprised how much time and effort this takes but it will be well worth it, especially considering that most of the items I’ll be planting will stay where they are for decades to come.
  6. Building a grape arbor and other trellises.
  7. Growing greens and winter veggies. Grow tunnels and clear plastic clothing bins help to extend the season.
  8. Pondering and researching the logistics of raising quail or ducks for eggs.
  9. Planning and building a quail or duck pen, should we actually decide to keep either.
  10. Identifying and researching the “weeds” and mushrooms in my yard. I have foraged quite a few wild plants for food. I rather like chickweed, dead nettle, wild onions, and dandelion greens. I have yet to try any fungus.
  11. Pruning.
  12. Propagating plants. I have hopes of creating a long lavender border along the edge of one of my one of my beds, and I am attempting to root several lavender cuttings.
  13. Preserving and fermenting food.
  14. Saving seeds.
  15. Packaging seeds for gifts.
  16. Researching what to do with excess veggies, seeds, and cuttings when summer hits.
  17. Researching ways to serve my community with my garden.
  18. Researching laws on raising backyard chickens…and how to change those laws.
  19. Updating my “for the neighbors” garden bed. When my husband and I created our food forest this past fall, we made a bed at the very front of our yard for the neighbors. I have planted a few things there and hope to really have at it in the spring. I plan to install some fruit trees and include more perennial herbs in the area.
  20. Creating signs for the garden, especially for the neighborhood bed.
  21. Researching nearby farms our family can tour in the spring.
  22. Watching documentaries and YouTube videos on permaculture, urban farming, food forests, homesteading, alternative housing, garden communities, off-gridding, and sustainable living.
  23. Fantasizing about building a tiny house, treehouse, or yurt for imaginary guests to come and enjoy our garden.
  24. Researching where to buy land should we decide to go all-in on farming or homesteading. This is most likely not going to happen, at least, not anytime soon. My husband and I are actually excited to see how much we can do with our small suburban lot. Still, it’s fun to see what properties are out there.
  25. Researching how to catch rainwater and purify it naturally–because it’s cool.
  26. Creating and filling compost bins.
  27. Researching garden chippers so I can make my own mulch and compost material from the piles of dead branches in our yard.
  28. Starting seeds inside. I don’t love this activity, as I prefer to start seed outside under a grow tunnel or a clear plastic clothing bin, but starting indoors helps to get ahead on growing certain plants.
  29. Cleaning up the yard and completing any other outdoor projects while the weather is still cool.
  30. Writing a book about how God inspired me to homestead in the first place.

Thanks for stopping by my site. Here you will find information on my homesteading projects, writing, singing, and many other strange and wonderful interests.