We live in an increasingly health and wellness-conscious world where people are continuously searching for and experimenting with new ways to improve their health through diet, exercise, and work-life balance. Now more than ever, people are looking at what they eat as a vehicle towards optimal health, and there are few vegetables which compete with leafy greens for overall nutrition and health benefits.
Leafy greens are the foundation of any healthy diet. They taste great, are packed with essential nutrients, easy to grow yourself, and fit seamlessly into almost any meal. They are also reaching their peak flavor in the fall and winter months, as many greens such as Kale benefit from the first frosts by becoming sweeter and losing some of their bitterness. The trend towards personal and community health has also benefited local farmers and restaurants putting their delicious, homegrown vegetables and produce directly onto your plates, creating a happy, healthy community for all.
At Ambius, we care about your health and well-being inside and outside the built environment, so we’ve built this easily digestible list of our favorite leafy greens to help you join the movement. Whether you’re an expert or amateur gardener, a cooking enthusiast, or trying to live your best life this Fall, we’re here to introduce you to the Fall leafy greens you need to know. Also, here are some outstanding recipes and tips for growing your own.
No list of leafy greens is complete without Kale. Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables on the planet and is one of the easiest on our list to grow. As we mentioned before, kale is a great addition to your fall garden because it grows sweeter after a hard frost, and actually has decorative elements for fall flower beds, especially purple kale.
Growing Tip: Kale takes about 45 days to grow to maturity. Plant 6-8 weeks before your first frost of the year.
Outdoor Growth: Kale can survive in temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit
Indoor Growth: Kale can survive outdoors in most climates, but can also be grown inside in pots. The key to indoor growth success is sunlight, as kale needs at least 8 hours to grow.
Recipe: We like this quick and easy Sauteed Kale Salad recipe.
All varieties of cabbage are fairly winter-hearty. Being part of the Brassica family which also includes broccoli and Brussels sprouts, cabbage is a wonderful and delicious fall vegetable that pairs well with an endless amount of fall salads and dishes. You can also ferment any leftover cabbage and create sauerkraut for New Years.
Growing Tip: Plant cabbage 6-10 weeks before the first frost. Just like kale, cabbage that matures in cooler weather develops a sweeter flavor, great for holiday meals!
Outdoor Growth: Cabbage prefers temperatures between 55 and 75 degrees. The plant will reach maturity in about 70 to 100 days.
Indoor Growth: Cabbage can be grown in long, rectangular containers which fit on window sills. Cabbage requires a healthy dose of sunlight. Keep soil moist but avoid over-watering.
Recipe: This Orange Apple Cranberry Sauerkraut is full of fall flavors and probiotic goodness!
Similar to Collard greens and used somewhat interchangeably in recipes, Mustard Greens are a tender and flavorful green which can be mixed with other greens or prepared by itself. It’s known for its spicy, mustard-like flavor.
Growing Tip: Mustard greens can tolerate an early, light frost. Be sure to get your Mustard Greens in the ground between August and early October depending on your location.
Outdoor Growth: Mustard greens typically take 35 – 50 days to mature before harvesting.
Indoor Growth: Mustard greens grow well indoors. You can grow healthy mustard green sprouts or grow the greens until they are mature.
Recipe: Keep it simple and delicious with this Mustard Greens and Bacon recipe.
Microgreens are a catch-all term for any type of greens or vegetables harvested as sprouts. This can be done with nearly any type of vegetable, but some of the most popular are broccoli sprouts, mustard sprouts, radish sprouts, and watercress sprouts. Microgreen can have up to 40 times the nutrients of their full-grown and mature plants.
Growing Tips: Microgreens grow quickly, typically in 7 to 20 days, and eaten quickly for maximal quality and health benefits. If you’re interested in learning more about microgreens, we recommend our Ultimate Guide to Indoor Plants!
Outdoor Growth: When growing microgreens outdoors, plant in shallow containers rather than directly into the soil.
Indoor Growth: Make sure your microgreens remain moist but not drenched, ensure they are receiving enough light, and be on the lookout constantly for signs of mold.
Recipe: We bet you’ll love this Pizza with Pesto, Mozzarella, and Arugula Microgreens!
The Arugula plant is known in garden communities as the “garden rocket” because it grows so quickly. This green is typically found in your favorite spring mixes, or used by itself as an accompaniment to pastas, pizzas, and seafood dishes. Arugula is a cold weather loving plant and grows extraordinarily well in the fall.
Growing Tip: Arugula can be ready to harvest in perfect conditions in as little as 4-weeks.
Outdoor Growth: All you need in order to grow Arugula successfully in your Fall/Winter garden are temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant seeds 4-5 weeks prior to your first frost to ensure you maximize the flavor profile.
Indoor Growth: Most leafy greens grow incredibly well in pots so long as the conditions are right for success. Sow seeds 2 inches apart in your 4” or deeper grow pot, give plenty of light, provide proper drainage. Soil should remain moisture-rich but not drenched.
Recipe: Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or need something quick and delicious for the family, we can’t recommend this Arugula and Goat Cheese Ravioli enough!
Can’t get enough Fall produce fun facts, recipes, and gardening techniques? We have you covered! Make sure to check out our Hungry Gardener’s Guide to the Fall Harvest article!