In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
March, 2013
Regional Report

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Abundance of healthy eating in a small space: kale, chard, bok choy, and more.

Growing the Most Nutritious Vegetables

Dark leafy greens are chock full of vitamins and minerals, very easy to grow, harvestable for many months, and can be prepared in a variety of ways.

Alphabetically, there is a multitude of them -- arugula, beet greens, bok choy, broccoli greens, cabbage (yes those outer leaves are edible!), celery, many colors of chard, cilantro, collard greens, dandelion greens, endive, escarole, garden cress, many shapes and textures and color of kale, red and green and mixed colors of leaf lettuce, mustard greens, parsley, radicchio, spinach, turnip greens, and watercress.

Greens contain vitamins A, C, and K , along with folate. Minerals include iron and calcium. They're also great sources of fiber. The darker the color, the more nutrition is packed into them. Half a cup is a good amount to add to your daily diet.

What a gardening bargain! Among the easiest plants to grow, they're economical when started from seed, especially if it's scattered over a small area of prepared soil and then the seedlings transplanted at three-week intervals to other parts of the garden wherever a gap occurs. They can be left crowded together and harvested in handfuls with a knife or spaced more widely for harvesting only the larger outside leaves, while letting the inner ones continue to grow. Either way, months and months of harvests await.

Whether eaten raw in salads, stir-fried with garlic and leeks, steamed, included in omelets or soups or casseroles, or even supplanting beets or carrots in chocolate cake, they're also a menu delight! When prepared, they do, however, require a bit of fat to enable your body to absorb some of their vitamins, so add a bit of salad dressing to raw salads, and olive or canola oil to other cooked recipes.

Planting greens now, then again in the fall is perfect timing for long-term exuberant growing and healthy eating!

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