TYPES, VARIETIES & CUTS
There are many types of greens, most grown and gathered for centuries, and all with distinctive tastes and textures. Broccoli, collard, dandelion, mustard, and turnip greens are growing in popularity, along with arugula and microgreens, for an ever-widening array of uses from appetizers, cocktails, and soups to garnishes, sandwiches, and salads.
Arugula (also called rocket or roquette) is an aromatic leafy green with a tangy, peppery flavor and is divided into ‘common’ and Italian ‘wild’ varieties. Both are popular in foodservice, with the latter having a more pungent flavor. Immature or baby arugula has a milder taste and smaller leaves.
Broccoli and turnip greens are popular additions to slaws and salads, while collards, dandelions, mustard, and turnip greens are often boiled or steamed, or can be sauteed with butter, garlic, then tossed vinaigrettes as ‘mixed greens’ side dishes.
Kale (also called leaf cabbage), deemed a new ‘superfood’ in recent years, has also been around for centuries. It has many varieties distinguished by leaf type and color, as well as stem length. Like collard greens, it was traditionally cooked, but more recently has become a popular addition to salads, soups, smoothies, and a variety of uses due to its high nutrient values.
Microgreens (sometimes called ‘vegetable confetti’) are varieties of tiny, flavorful greens selected for their color and texture. As a hyperlocal addition to the food chain, microgreens are grown in gardens and greenhouses and highly sought after by grocery retailers and restaurants.
Microgreens are generally smaller than most ‘baby’ or immature versions of greens or herbs, and often confused with sprouts—which are germinated seeds. Amaranth, basil, chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, kohlrabi, lemon grass, onions, parsley, radish, and sunflower are among the many types of microgreens, which are packed with nutrients and vitamins that wane in their larger counterparts as they mature.
References: University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension, USDA.
PESTS & DISEASE
Leafy greens are susceptible to aphids, ants, caterpillars, crickets, beetles, leafminers, loopers, moths, nematodes, and thrips. Common diseases include black rot, downy mildew, and leaf spot; affected leaves should be removed promptly to prevent spreading.
As a cool season crop, very hot weather is often more problematic than pests or diseases. Extreme temperatures can make plants bolt or flower, causing leaves to turn bitter.
References: University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension, University of Minnesota Extension, USDA.