Tag Archives: greens

Farm Ferments: Swiss Chard Kimchi

Some evidence suggests that humans have been fermenting food and beverages for over 13, 000 years! This ancient method of food preservation uses naturally occurring bacteria that create acids to prevent spoilage and give fermented foods their sour flavor. Even though most of us now have access to other food preservation methods like canning or just refrigeration using this time-honored technique can still be a great choice for the modern gardener. Recent studies continue to link gut bacteria with mood and some even suggest that good gut health may help prevent depression.

If you want to improve your gut health an easy recipe to try is kimchi. Kimchi has probably been around since before 37 BC and is a staple in Korean cuisine. Traditionally kimchi was made from vegetables like napa cabbage, radishes, and carrots which were fermented in earthenware pots buried in the ground. The ground temperature helped the kimchi ferment slowly and keep for long periods during the summer and prevented it from freezing during the winter. This time of year a great way to make kimchi is with swiss chard.

Making Kimchi

Ingredients

  • about 1lb swiss chard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 TBS red chili powder
  • 1 TBS paprika
  • 5 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 TBS fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 TBS sesame oil

Rinse off your chard and separate the leaves and stems before roughly chopping all of it into small pieces. Thoroughly mix all ingredients. It’s often best to sort of massage them together with your hands like you would sour kraut. You can use gloves for this if desired.

Pack your kimchi into jars leaving at least 1-inch of headspace. Fit lids loosely to your jars and leave them in a spot on your counter out of direct sunlight for 4-5 days. Remove the lids at least once per day to allow any trapped gases to escape and stir your kimchi so the same leaves aren’t always sitting on top. After a few days, your kimchi which shrink down and you may be able to combine jars if desired. Taste your kimchi every day or so and when you like the flavor move it to the refrigerator to slow down fermentation.

If you like this ferment try making your own sauerkraut!

The Power of Fermented Foods: Making Sauerkraut

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10 Unique Greens to Plant This Spring

Watercress

Only gardeners know how truly exciting greens can be. After months of cold weather, they’re some of the first seeds to go in the ground and the first harvests of the new season. Plus, when you grow your own greens you have access to so much variety. Here are 10 unique varieties for those still adding to their spring planting list.

Watercress

Like the name suggests this plant is grown in water! Though not popular as a salad ingredient until the 1800s, watercress has a long and storied history and was used by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Persians. It has mustard-like flavor and can be grown in a cool stream or even a pot if you continually add fresh water.

Yellow Cabbage Collards

This North Carolina heirloom is milder and more tender than other collard varieties. It has yellow-tinted leaves that form loose heads. Cabbage collard seed can be hard to come by, this variety was shared with SESE by Benny and Vickie Cox of the Collard Shack!

Red Giant Mustard

A beautiful, insect-resistant variety, red giant has well-savoyed leaves that are predominantly reddish-purple with an undercoat of green. It has strong mustard flavor, good cold tolerance, and is ready to harvest in 43 days.

Outredgeous Romaine Lettuce

This lettuce was chosen by NASA for space farming and was the first vegetable to be grown and eaten on the International Space Station! Ready to harvest in just 64 days this variety has dark red, ruffled leaves that form loose heads. It was bred by Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seed.

This is an Open Source Seed Initiative variety. The OSSI pledge: “You have the freedom to use these OSSI-Pledged seeds in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others’ use of these seeds or their derivatives by patents or other means, and to include this pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives.” Read more about OSSI here! >>

Alabama Blue Collards

Alabama Blue Collards

Collards may not be a unique feature to gardens of the mid-Atlantic and southeast but this blue-leaved heirloom is actually rather rare. The plants are smaller than other collard varieties so they can be spaced closer together. The leaves are green, blue-green, and purple with white, pale green, and plum-colored veins.

Lark’s Tongue Kale

This heirloom is a German variety dating back to the 1800s. It has long, narrow, silver-green leaves and is extremely cold-hardy, withstanding subzero temperatures. In warmer areas, this kale can live for many years and grow as high as 5 feet tall!

Tom Thumb Bibb (Butterhead) Lettuce

This adorable lettuce produces apple-sized heads that are great for small gardens. It also matures fairly quickly, being ready to harvest in as little as 48 days. Tom Thumb has tender leaves and is a pre-1850 heirloom.

Ruby Streaks Mustard

Ruby Streak’s lacy leaves are a wonderful addition to any spring salad. In cold weather, the leaves are predominantly purple but are purple and green in warm weather. Ready to harvest in just 40 days this mustard’s spicy flavor also does wonderfully in stir-fries.

Sword Leaf (Yu Mai Tsai) Looseleaf Lettuce

This lettuce has a unique appearance and flavor! It’s a Taiwanese variety with long, thin, pointed leaves. It’s sometimes used in cooking as well as in salads and has a distinct flavor with hints of almond and clove.

Barese Swiss Chard

Though rainbow chard may be more popular this Italian variety actually has sweeter, more tender leaves than other varieties. It has white stems with glossy green leaves which can be harvested for baby greens at 25 days or for mature leaves at 50 days.

Even if you just planted greens you could have a garden full of variety. The name “greens” is pretty deceiving with the abundance of shapes, colors, and textures that different varieties offer. This is just a small sampling of some of the great varieties that work well for spring planting. You can find more in our greens and lettuce sections.

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Caring for Winter Greens

January in the garden can be a slow month depending on your gardening zone. This time of year, unless your gardening in the far south, greens, garlic, and perennials are probably the only things you’ve got in the garden. While soon it will be time to start planting seeds for spring right now you can focus on keeping any hardy plants you’ve got alive and well.

Fall planted hardy greens can provide a bounty over the winter months. However because of limited daylight and cold temperatures caring for them will be a little different than caring for your garden during the summer.

Water

For the most part, you won’t need to water during the winter months. Even if your plants are under cover where they don’t get any precipitation they’re unlikely to need watering because they aren’t growing quickly.

However, during periods of active growth like the fall and spring you may still need to water them even if the temperatures are relatively cool. As it gets closer to spring be sure to monitor their needs.

Protection

For most areas, if you still have greens growing in January you probably have grown them in a protected environment whether it’s a cold frame or greenhouse. As temperatures continue to reach winter lows you may still need to offer them further protection to keep your garden growing strong.

For cold hardy greens like kale, lettuce, arugula, collards, spinach, and cress a simple layer of frost cloth can keep them growing strong even in an unheated greenhouse when temperatures dip into the low teens and even single digits.

Frost cloth can be placed on hoops or laid directly but gently onto your greens. Remember to remove the cloth as the temperature warms up in the day though! If you have to thin cloth like burlap or an old sheet will also work. Just make sure it’s not so heavy that it will crush your plants.

Harvesting

You can harvest your greens the way you normally would during the spring or summer months. Do note that because of the shorter days and colder temperatures greens will take much longer to come back after harvest but this doesn’t mean they’ve died or something is wrong. Once things warm up and the days get longer in the spring they’ll speed up quickly.

Venting

Don’t forget that sunny days can quickly heat up a cold frame or even greenhouse. Thermometers that come with an outdoor sensor and indoor display can help you monitor the temperature of your garden space without having to go out and check. Venting your structure when it heats up is very important to prevent scorching your plants.

Additional Resources

If you’d like more tips for winter growing, check out some of our other posts below.

Fresh Greens to Harvest from Fall through Winter

Easy Season Extension For Fall

Easy, Affordable Hoop House Options

Fresh Food in Winter

Tips for Growing Awesome Fall Greens

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