Salad is a year-round constant on our dinner table. Our crop plan is set up with a wide diversity of salad greens. The goal is to have some kind at every distribution - even in winter. In the spring and fall this is easy. Lettuce, spinach and most other greens thrive in these cool, wet conditions. The summer is a challenge due to the heat. Most greens want to go to seed when it is hot. They also have a tendency to taste bitter due to less water in the soil. Spinach and greens in the Brassica family are a total wash in the height of summer, but some lettuce varieties do well despite the odds. In the winter we grow greens in our passive solar greenhouse. This is where you will be exposed to some unusual things like mizuna, vitamin green, and yukina savoy. These greens can survive the winter in our passive solar greenhouse, although they don't do much growing in January and February. The winter challenge is to get enough growth on the greens in the early part of winter so we can harvest them during the slow growing time and still have enough until they start producing again in March and April.
Greens do not like to be stored wet, but they need a humid environment. We do not wash any greens because it significantly reduces their storage life for you. Leave them in a plastic bag in your refrigerator UNWASHED until you are ready to use them. Stored this way, they will last 1-2 weeks. The best thing you can do is invest in a salad spinner. You can wash your greens in it and then also use it to store the left-over washed greens. The basket keeps the greens from sitting in water so they store reasonably well (even after washing). When storing or washing, remember to be gentle. The more you crush the leaves the sooner they turn slimy. Never pack leaves into a bag and be sure not to place anything on top of them in your refrigerator (another reason the salad spinner is a great storage container).
- My love of raw vegetables makes salad greens very versatile. No matter the season, there are always vegetables you can put on top of greens and eat with your favorite dressing.
- In winter, grate raw root vegetables such as red beets, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, carrots and celeriac then place them over winter greens with your favorite dressing for a fresh winter treat.