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Homegrown Greens Provide More Variety

Allie Dhuyvetter, R.D., Program Assistant, and Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

Do you ever tire of iceberg lettuce?

If you do, growing your own leafy greens might be the answer. Iceberg lettuce, although popular, is low in
calories but does not provide nearly the nutrition that darker green lettuce provides.

Leafy greens include lettuce, arugula, Swiss chard, kale and spinach. Growing your own leafy greens can be
economical and fun. Plus many varieties are available for planting. Certain leafy greens, such as kale and Swiss
chard, need lots of space to grow, but others can be grown in small spaces or even containers. You can grow
more than one crop of leafy greens in a summer, too.

For more information on leafy green varieties, fun facts and recipes, check out the North Dakota State
University publication “From Garden to Table: Leafy Greens!” at

You can harvest individual leaves or the whole plant. Harvesting the “baby” leaves will allow you to enjoy
multiple pickings during the season. Baby leaves also will be the most tender.
Clean leafy greens in cool running water. For hard-to-remove soil, place leaves in a cool water bath to soak for a
few minutes to loosen the soil. Rinse with cool water and use paper towels or a salad spinner to remove excess

Dark green leafy vegetables provide a variety of nutrients and fiber. For example, 1 cup of raw spinach has 7
calories, 0 grams (g) fat, 1 g protein, 1 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber and 24 milligrams sodium. Green leafy
vegetables are rich in vitamins A (from the carotenoid natural pigments), C and K, and the B vitamin folate.
Leafy greens also contain calcium and iron.

Leafy greens have many uses. For example, arugula is sprinkled on top of fresh pizza in Italy. Spinach often is
used in salads and cooked dishes. Kale, historically used as a garnish, is increasingly used as a main entree or
baked into chips.

Leaf lettuce is one of the specialty crops that can be grown in North Dakota. Visit the North Dakota State
University Extension Service’s Field to Fork website at for more information
about growing and using a variety of specialty crops, including leaf lettuce.

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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