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Growing Great Greens. Dennis Morgeson Agent For Horticulture Washington County Kentucky. Gardening Basics. Select a sunny spot-8 hours daily Relatively level Well drained Water nearby Avoid tree roots if possible. Planning . Smaller is usually better Test soil and fertilize accordingly

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growing great greens

Growing Great Greens

Dennis Morgeson Agent For Horticulture Washington County Kentucky

gardening basics
Gardening Basics
  • Select a sunny spot-8 hours daily
  • Relatively level
  • Well drained
  • Water nearby
  • Avoid tree roots if possible
  • Smaller is usually better
  • Test soil and fertilize accordingly
  • Organic matter is the fastest way to improve structure
planning continued
Planning continued
  • Plant in proper season, id-128
  • Select disease resistant cultivars
  • Consult family members for input
why grow your own
Why Grow your own?
  • Safety
  • Taste/Freshness
  • Price
  • Nutrition: Darker leaves are more nutritious but greens in general are vitamin powerhouses!
the greens
The Greens
  • Most can be started early without special techniques
  • March 1st starts the natural planting season, however?
  • Greens are basically any crop we grow to eat the leaves and or stems
  • Salad Greens vs Greens
common salad greens
Common Salad Greens
  • These are just the tip of the ice burg…
  • Romaine or Loose Leaf
  • Butterhead or softheads (bibbs)
  • Crisphead (hardest to grow)
  • Chicory, Endive, Arugula, and or corn salad etc. etc.
  • Johnny’s, Baker Creek, Seed Savers Exchange….
  • Some or many of these can become very bitter if we get much heat or dry weather, eat them young!
  • Shade?
  • Generally cooked before eaten
  • Turnip greens, collards, kale, flower Sprouts, mustards
  • Cooked or raw: cabbage, spinach, Chinese cabbage, dandelion, kohlrabi, swiss chard
  • Greens are cool season vegetables that do need full sun
  • We generally get two good cropping seasons in Kentucky
  • Most can be sown directly into the garden in early to mid March
  • Raised beds are a good option for greens
  • An application of a complete fertilizer such as 4 lbs 10-10-10 per 100 square feet or so should be incorporated into the top 3-4 inches of soil
  • Leaf and small head lettuce and turnips sow ¼ inch deep and thin to 4-6 inches apart
  • Mustards and spinach plant ½ inch deep and thin to 4-6 inches
  • Swiss chard and kale plant ½ inch deep and thin 8-12 inches apart
  • Thinning should not be delayed or you will get weak spindly plants with little foliage
  • Plant successive crops at 7-10 day intervals for continuous harvest
  • Mulch to conserve moisture, keep soil cool, and reduce weeds
  • Straw, grass clippings, leaf mold, etc.
  • What about plastic?
  • A second application of fertilizer banded should be applied when plants are 2-3 inches tall and lightly worked in followed by irrigation
  • Kale may benefit from a third application when 8 inches or so tall
  • Note: Many of the greens have a better flavor if grown in the fall and harvested after the weather cools
  • Loose-leaf lettuces 41-50 days
  • Romaine lettuce generally take 70-80 days
  • Butter and crisp heading varieties 80-90 days
  • Most greens are not harvested fully meaning individual leaves are taken over time so harvest can actually last months or even spring through fall (chard)
  • All greens and lettuces should be harvested when fully hydrated early morning or late evening and wrapped in plastic with a few holes and refrigerated quickly
  • Several fungal pathogens attack lettuce generally in cool damp weather, pull and discard plants to reduce spreading, good sanitation and crop rotation is best
  • Plant resistant cultivars if problems have occurred in the past, generally problems are few however in a homeowner situation
  • Microgreens are young, tender, edible crops that are harvested as seedlings.
  • Grown to first true leaf stage
  • Different from sprouts?
  • Labor intensive, but easy!
  • Best started indoors in a greenhouse, high tunnel, cold frame etc.
  • Use sterile medium, requires very little if any fertilization
  • Ready for harvest in 7-14 days
  • Highly perishable, generally eaten raw or used as a garnish
  • Little time for insect or disease problems to occur
partial list of possible microgreens
Partial List of Possible Microgreens

Amaranth Fennel

Arugula Kale

Asian greens Kohlrabi

Basil Lemongrass

Beet Mizuna

Broccoli Mustard

Buckwheat Nasturtium

Cabbage Onion

Carrot Parsley

Celery Popcorn

Chives Radish

Collards Spinach

Cress Sweet pea

Dill Swiss chard

  • Simply germinated seedlings
  • Can be eaten raw or cooked
  • Most common sprouts are alfalfa, mung bean, soybean, lentil, cabbage, radish, and rye
  • Use only seeds labeled for sprouting, many seeds have been treated with insecticides etc and are not edible
  • Where to buy? Online, health food stores, produce section of stores etc.
  • Why grow your own?
growing sprouts at home safely
Growing Sprouts At Home Safely
  • Hint: You don’t need an actual sprouter, Mason jars are fine!
season extension hot bed
Season Extension-Hot Bed
  • 12 to 18 inches of manure under hotbed with 4 to 6 inches of soil on top
  • Plant when soil temp drops to 85 degrees
extend the growing season
Hoophouses (High Tunnels) are relatively inexpensive (compared to greenhouses)

Greenhouses ($20/sq ft) High Tunnels ($.50/ sqft)

Extend the Growing Season
high tunnels
Single layer of plastic

No heat or cooling (other than venting)

Irrigation a must

High Tunnels
season extension
Season Extension

Most cool months in Kentucky high tunnels can be used for lettuce and greens production, very little growth however in mid December through January