Leafy greens are one of the super foods of the past and have been used regularly by all our ancestors. They are a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Recently leafy greens have been used to make green juices which help in detoxing the body. They are an absolute essential to a healthy meal. While leafy greens are one of the most nutritious foods we know, they are also ones that have highest amounts of chemical fertilizer and pesticide residues.
Leafy greens are one of the easiest to grow and fast yielding crops that can be grown at home. They do not need much space to grow and do well even in small containers. There are a number of common greens to choose from such as amaranthus, spinach (palak), honagone, chakkotha, methi, coriander, pudina (mint), gongura, and moringa.
Leafy greens grow best in a potting soil mixture of 1:1:1 of red soil, sand and compost. Greens can be grown either from seeds or from cuttings. Stem cuttings are used only to cultivate pudina, moringa, honagone. Leafy greens usually have very small seeds, and at times it becomes quite difficult to evenly spread the seeds on the soil. One way to overcome this hurdle is to mix sand along with the seeds and to mix them well. Now plant this seed-sand mixture over the soil surface.
Greens grow best under good sunlight. They also gulp loads of water but make sure the excess water drains out and does to stagnate in the container. Covering the exposed soil surface with mulch, after the seeds have sprouted would help in retaining moisture in the soil and in providing nutrition to the plants.
Make sure to check on your plants everyday particularly to watch out for pest incidence. One of the simplest ways to avoid pests of all kinds is to enrich the soil, which would ensure you are growing healthy crops. But in any case if you find pests on your crops, one of the simplest ways to get rid of them is to pick them off the plant. This is stop them from spreading to other parts of the plant, or to other plants. The next step would be to spray a neem-based pest repellant. A mixture of 50ml neem oil, 50ml khadi soap solution and 1 litre water could be sprayed on the plants in the evening hours.
Repeat this spray at weekly intervals to prevent pests getting to your greens. If grown well, amaranthus, coriander and methi will be ready to harvest in 30 days.
Spinach takes 45 days. Honagone, mint and moringa are perennial plants and would yield small harvests over a long period of time. Other than these common greens, even beetroots and radishes can be grown for its greens. Start growing your greens right away!