Growing Better Salad Greens

Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Grow Better Greens Podcast | Comments Off on Growing Better Salad Greens

In this Episode we explore what’s at the heart of our show – why we think teaching everyone we know how to Grow Better Salad Greens (with more nutrients per calorie, as in better than you can buy) is the change that we want to see in the world. They may just be salad greens, but there’s a lot of meat behind our philosophy! You can listen here:





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What Growing Better Salad Greens Can Do:

What Greens Can Do for the World1:15
What Greens Can Do for YOUR Health3:05
What Greens CAN’T do for Your Health4:52
Should the First World Behave Like the Third World?6:55
Why Greens are the Perfect Plant Sentinel in your Garden9:05
Why Growing High Brix Greens is the Perfect Survival Skill12:24
New Addition: Why Do YOU Grow Food15:05


View the full transcription of this episode here.


What Greens Can do for the World

On an ecological level, growing greens can literally help to save the planet! Okay, so not just greens, but all plants including veggies, flowers, trees and shrubs help to stabilize our soils and to pull carbon from the atmosphere and return it to our soil, which helps to regulate atmospheric temperatures.

Sir Albert Howard, (one of the founders of Organic Agriculture) called this ‘The Green Carpet’. The idea being that if we can keep all of the soil on Planet Earth covered with living plants, we humans can favorably control the environment. Soil that is planted as opposed to bare and exposed, does not get blown away by winds, nor does it get washed away as easily by heavy rains.

Human gardeners can help to prevent the loss of soil (and its minerals – our much-needed nutrients!) into the atmosphere and oceans – all by simply planting, planting, planting!

Beyond erosion prevention, planting greens also helps the world by creating food and habitat for lower-downs on the food chain, bringing biodiversity into our food systems.

On an economical level, greens are super-cheap to grow and become an easy way to round out nutrition alongside other cheaply produced staple foods. Families that rely on diets heavy in cassava, potatoes and rice benefit from the complementary nutrition that greens deliver. As salad greens can be grown almost anywhere in any season, the cost of production can be kept low, with no added costs for shipping.

Additionally, many greens can serve double-duty in financially compromised communities, as they may be part of a two-stage crop. Greens eaten from grain and root crops, such as wheat and barley leaves or pumpkin and sweet potato leaves, are just the first harvest, while the final product will come in later in the season.


What Salad Greens Can do for YOUR Health

Most greens are rich in Iron, Vitamin A, and Folate. Further, protein is often present, and great for those who don’t eat meat or cannot access it.

Salad greens are also rich in BetaCarotene, which we normally associate with deep orange-colored fruits. Beta carotene is in fact often higher in greens, but the green from the chlorophyll is so powerful that it overpowers the orange color of the beta carotene.

Generally speaking, the health benefits that you’ll get from greens really depends upon your situation in the world. For example, in the Third World, greens may be helping eaters to stave off some devastating nutritional epidemics, such as Iron Deficiency Anemia. They are also a source of moisture and trace minerals.

In the first world, where eaters often have diets higher in processed foods, greens offer much-needed fiber alongside trace minerals.


What Greens CAN’T do for Your Health

Let’s be reasonable…greens are really low in calories! They may be nutritional powerhouses, but they certainly can’t fuel us through a typical days worth of work. We need calories to produce the energy necessary for the type of labor that humans thrive upon. Desk jobs and salads? Maybe, but you’ll need to add many other foods if you want to drum up the energy to tend your very own garden of salad greens.

Additionally, greens are lacking in certain vital nutrients that we humans need to survive, such as Vitamin B-12 and Iodine.

Because greens can be fibrous and tough, they often need special treatment when prepared. Greens like kale benefit from being massaged before being eaten raw, or from being braised – both methods help to soften the cell walls, making the kale easier to chew and digest.

Further, some greens have intense, off-putting or specific flavors. This bitterness is actually a survival strategy, as the off-putting taste helps to fend off hungry insects. These greens may need to be boiled before eating, to rid them of their toxins.


Should the First World Behave Like the Third World?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. For example, in the Third World, water may be hard to access, so appropriate technologies like Rope and Washer Pumps might be crucial for growing food. But they could also be advantageous here in the First World, right? Why pay for water? Why waste it? Shouldn’t intentional conservation help to reduce the strain on our systems?

This is the same thought process as ethical veganism. The idea shared in the 1971 book by Francis Moore Lappe, Diet for a Small Planet, discusses what a food production system would look like if we all ate so that the resources we have can actually feed everyone on Earth. Right now, we spend more calories to produce foods that offer us less in return. Asking the First World to eat less or different foods can reduce stress on the system and in turn offer more food to the Third World.

What does this have to do with Greens? Growing your own greens allows you to have some control over your own nutritional needs. You become less of a burden on the industrial food supply. Don’t tax the system if you don’t need to!


Why Greens are the Perfect Plant Sentinel in your Garden

Brix, which we talked about in Episode One Grow Better Food has a downside. Brix can be fooled by a high sugar content that has been bred into the vegetable, such as the case of ‘Candy Carrots’ or ‘Sugar-Enhanced Corn’.

Greens, which can’t show a false-positive Brix reading allow you some control in monitoring your garden soil. You can easily learn which greens at which stage should read X for Brix, giving you some information about whether or not nutrients in your soil are balanced and available to ALL of you plants.

Over time, you can improve the Brix readings in your greens. If you can grow high Brix greens, then your soil should be improving enough to raise the Brix in your other veggies, which may be harder to test.

Further, if your greens, homegrown or store-bought, are low in Brix, you can take this as a sign that the soil they were grown in needs some attention.

To learn more about growing high Brix food with more nutrients per calorie, sign up for our free video series:

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Why Growing High Brix Greens is the Perfect Survival Skill

Understanding the basics around growing greens gives you access to a fast-growing, short cycle plant. Most greens can be harvested with three weeks, even sooner as sprouts and ‘thinnings’.

Greens can be grown almost anywhere and harvesting them at home means not much is lost nutritionally in transit or storage.

But the real lesson in growing greens is that it teaches you to garden in multiple (weather) circumstances, flexes your ‘growing’ muscle and makes you think about how all plants grow and what their needs are.

This knowledge is more important than storing up on barrels of brown rice and ammo!


Why do You Grow Food?

In this section we ask our listeners to share why they are growing food. This week Nathalie, who gardens in Texas, shares why she loves growing food!

Record your answer here

You could win a collection of our heirloom leafy green seeds – absolutely free!

Thanks for reading our blog : ) We appreciate your time! Remember to enter your first name and email address below to access the 3 Beyond-Organic Secrets to Growing Better Greens. Happy Gardening!

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