Greens, Greens, Glorious Greens!

Storing those dark leafy greens for winter use.

kale, cabbage, and chard

I grow greens—rows of greens.

And then, at harvest, I kick myself for using so much garden space on things that can’t be used up and go either to seed at the first hot weather or to compost at the end of the season.

Like spinach, kale, and lettuce, to name just a few.

But no more!

Not only have I finally figured out how much I should actually plant, but I’ve also figured out a way to harvest it when it’s ready and then enjoy it all winter long—though not in salads, mind you.

Spinach: I plant a long row of it, right up beside the lettuce. The spinach is ready first, so I harvest the whole row at once, leaving plenty of room for the lettuce to mature. I still blanch and freeze some, for use in things like classic spinach dip; but mostly I fill large zip-loc bags with the fresh tender leaves and throw them in the freezer. Once frozen, they crush nicely; then I transfer the product to an ice cream pail and, yep, throw it back in the freezer—after which it can be scooped out with a spoon to be used in smoothies, omelets, pizza, casseroles, soup …. you get the idea.

To enjoy fresh spinach a little longer in early summer, I squeeze another row in somewhere about two weeks after the first planting.

Kale: This is a long-lived plant that can be enjoyed all summer, so I give it plenty of space and plant a good 10-foot row. I'm almost certain you'll have neighbours who can help you with any surplus :) The freezing/crushing/storing process is the same as for spinach; however, the stems are much more fibrous and tough, so I remove the leaf from the centre rib before packing into bags.

remove the tough centre rib from the leaf

I use kale the same way I use spinach, and nothing packs a nutritional punch like the dark leafy greens; so I say sneak 'em in wherever you can!

UPDATE: This winter I used the crushed spinach in spinach dip, and, contrary to what I had believed, it worked very well indeed! A glad farewell, I say, to the blanching/freezing/thawing/squeezing/chopping method I had thought necessary :)