Camryn Price, Stephens, Cynthia
Written by: Cynthia Stephens
Are you looking for a low-cost and fun way to add fresh vegetables to your family meals? Try making a greens garden box not only to enrich your nutrition intake but also to enhance the nutrient value of your garden soil. Greens can be planted from fall to early spring in Louisiana, are easy to grow, and are a great fit to a healthy diet. With many varieties available under the common term “greens,” there is a different vegetable choice to suit each family member’s taste.
“Greens” is a term describing cold-tolerant plants common to southern winter gardens. These include mustard, turnip, kale, and collard greens. Greens are a great source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber and minerals. Greens that are cooked in a healthy manner are a great source to include on the USDA’s “MyPlate” food planner. One cup of cooked greens is considered one serving. Most adults need one to three vegetable servings per day for a healthy lifestyle.
Materials needed for a greens garden box include the following: a cardboard box (2’x3’), potting soil mix containing fertilizer, and greens seeds. Just a teaspoon of greens seeds will plant a box. Select a cardboard box approximately six to eight inches deep. Select a location for the box that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight.
Place the box directly on the ground in an area where the box can be allowed to decompose and enrich the soil after the greens crop is finished. Add the soil mix and then evenly spread the greens seeds on top of the soil. Lightly water and press the seeds into the soil. Water as needed. The seeds should sprout within a few days.
You can thin the planting if needed by using the sprouts to make a great addition to raw salads. Greens for cooking can be harvested at any stage. When the crop is finished, the box can be allowed to compost in place or added to a compost bin. Multiple boxes planted at weekly intervals can provide fresh greens from fall to spring.
A greens garden box project can be a healthy and inexpensive project. You can also easily turn it into a family activity with each person creating his/her own mini winter garden.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture