The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Gleaning Greens

May 30th, 2011 · 4 Comments · Posted in garden

Assuming the position for gleaning

This is how I spent parts of the weekend: sitting on my duff, pulling leaves from greens that have bolted in the heat here in the District of Columbia.

I planted my greens–mustards, arugula, mizuna–on March 13 and as soon as temperatures started to rise they wanted to burst into bloom. The mizuna was a total loss. But I went to work salvaging what I could from the rest.

I start early the morning–before the heat sets in–and plant myself on a 5-gallon bucket. It’s pleasant enough work, just plucking greens and thinking of nothing in particular. The long stems are destined for the compost heap. When I’ve collected a big bowl full of greens, I dump them in the kitchen sink to refresh in cool water. Spin them dry and they’re ready to load into plastic bags.

We now have bags bulging with greens, enough to keep us in salad for the next couple of weeks.

Planting our favorite greens in spring is so different from the fall crop, which seems to last forever. The last plantings keep through the winter and into the spring thaw, when they revive and feed us almost until the new greens are ready. But the spring greens are merely a chimera. Here today, gone tomorrow. They warn that another oppressive summer of heat and humidity is on its way. In fact, temperatures here are supposed to climb into the 90s and stay there, thick with moisture, for most of the week.

I’m already wishing for fall.

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  • Terry Golson

    This is why I have chickens – those bolted greens are scarfed up by the hens. They become lovely eggs and compost and I don’t feel like the crop was a total loss!

  • Pattie

    Ed: If you put a simple piece of window screen materials over a hooped bed, you can provide enough shade to extend the greens a bit now and start them earlier in late summer. This worked shockingly well in our community garden last year and this spring. And we’ve been into the 90s for weeks already.

    Also, hint for next year: Freckles romaine lasts the longest and is beautiful and delicious.

  • Ed Bruske

    Thanks, Pattie. I’m aware of shade cloth and have even recommended it to others. But I’ve never used it in our garden.

  • Charlotte

    I’m making a big pot of “green soup” right now — bolted greens, a couple of spuds, onion, garlic, a carrot. Cook down and whiz with the immerison blender. Then I freeze it.
    Also, the backyard chickens come in handy for bolted greens — makes me feel less like they’re going to waste.