Skip to main content

How to grow delicious greens in your home garden

Growing a new plant can be intimidating, especially plants like lettuce or collards that seem delicate or harder to grow successfully. Don’t let that stop you! We’ve put together a guide to help you grow and harvest delicious and nutritious veggies like butter lettuce or kale in your own backyard. 

Tools and materials needed

Before you can start the growing process, you’ll need to make a list of the types and varieties of greens you want to try. You can use this guide to determine if organic seeds are for you. You can even check out cold weather hardy greens that you can grow into frost season. 

If you already have a home garden, it’s likely that you’re equipped with all the tools necessary. But to be sure, here’s a list of the items we recommend.

  • Plant seeds of choice
  • Garden fork
  • Row covers
  • Row labels 
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer

prepping garden

Prepare your planting site

Like most plants, greens love well-fertilized and compost-filled soil. If you’re not working with a raised garden bed, this will be the most challenging part of the process. Tilling, working, and amending the soil can be hard work, but your plants and salads will thank you. 

Using a garden fork, work up the soil and add compost and your preferred fertilizer. Mix these amendments in well, and break up the soil as you go. Seedlings have delicate roots that need loose soil to grow efficiently. If there are large clumps or rocks in their way, it will make it much harder for the plants to germinate and develop strong, healthy root systems. 

Plant your seeds

This is a satisfying but time-consuming process, depending on how many rows you have to plant. Here, you’ll be using a pen or finger to open a small hole in the ground. Go down about 1/4 of an inch and pinch in two to three seeds per hole. Use row labels to identify where you placed plants so you can identify them correctly in the future. This  will also allow you to add or subtract plants you did or did not like for the next growing season. 

The row cover is optional but could speed up the germination process. They can also protect seedlings from being eaten by rabbits, squirrels, and other rodents. There are gardeners who swear by them and others who say they never use them. 


Cultivate the successfully-germinated seeds

Since there are multiple seeds per hole, the likelihood of more than one seed sprouting is pretty high. This is an excellent problem to have and much better than not having any seeds germinate at all! 

If you’re noticing multiple seedlings growing in one hole, give them a few weeks and then cut the seedling that is the smallest so you have only one plant per 8 inches of garden space. This ensures each plant has plenty of space and available nutrients to grow and produce big, healthy leaves. 

Harvest the greens of your labors

Now that it’s been several weeks and you’ve cared for and nurtured these beautiful green plants to life, it’s time to harvest. There is almost nothing more satisfying than watching seeds you planted grow and thrive into mature plants. It’s also gratifying to then gather and create a salad or other dishes with the food you’ve grown in your own backyard! 

Many greens will allow you to harvest a few leaves at a time, and they will continue to produce more leaves as the season goes on. To harvest in this way, you’ll want to grab the leaf you’ll be harvesting, go down to the soil level, and cut the leaf off without damaging the rest of the plant. If you have to go higher up on the leaf, that’s okay. Damaging the plant can result in it dying or no longer producing any new leaves. 

With a basket full of romaine, Swiss chard or kale, you’re ready to make the best salad or green smoothie you’ve ever tasted! Take these steps and apply them to an already existing garden or a new garden. It’s never too late to start gardening, and everyone, no matter their stage in life, can gain something from a garden — even a small garden just for salad greens!

Editors' Recommendations

Rebecca Wolken
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Rebecca's has written for Bob Villa and a Cincinnati based remodeling company. When she's not writing about home remodeling…
The 7 best types of Christmas trees to fill your home with holiday cheer
Everything you need to know about the most popular Christmas trees
Decorating a Christmas tree

Decorating your home for the holidays is so fun, and it's something the whole family can take part in. Choosing the Christmas tree is often an activity that families especially look forward to. And you can make a full day of it, bringing everyone out to pick the perfect tree.

This tradition is a great way to spend time together, and it ensures that everyone feels included in the festivities. But how do you know which tree is best for your situation? There are many types of Christmas trees to choose from, so it can be hard to understand how to narrow them down.

Read more
Which plants absorb the most carbon dioxide? Here are 5 air-cleaning plants to add to your home
Easy-care houseplants that will cleanse the air in your home
Areca palm

It doesn't matter if you live in the city or out on a homestead; clean air in our homes is something we all want. While using air filters and opening up windows are great ways to keep your air fresh and clean, sometimes they just aren't options. To get you started on cleaning up the air in your home, we'll be talking about the plants you can use to improve the quality of your air and the aesthetics of your space. Keep reading to learn which plants absorb the most carbon dioxide.

Why find carbon dioxide-absorbing plants?
There isn't anything you have to do to encourage a plant to absorb carbon dioxide and expel oxygen. It's what it does naturally! That goes for all plants, from a giant ficus rubber tree to a modest cactus. Any plant that uses photosynthesis to create its energy will improve your air quality. You can also find plants that absorb other toxic things from the air. For example, a bamboo palm will reduce levels of formaldehyde in the air as well. So if you're looking for a forest of air-cleaning plants, you're sure to find it.

Read more
These food waste apps will help you save money – and the planet
Try these apps to help reduce food waste and save the environment
Fresh vegetables with a knife on a wooden surface

According to, 40% of the food supply in the U.S. is wasted. That means nearly half of all food in the U.S. ends up in a landfill instead of being eaten. It's even more devastating to consider when there are hundreds of thousands of Americans who struggle to bring enough food home to feed their families. While these numbers may feel overwhelming, there are now apps aimed at reducing the amount of waste and redistributing it to those in need. Whether you're hoping to reduce your own food waste by passing your excess on to your neighbors or looking to pick up a grocery store's surplus, these food waste apps will be a big help to you and the environment. 

The best food waste apps
There are several food waste apps out there now, and not all do the same thing. Some are on the consumer end and offer reduced prices on overstocked food items. This means buying items that will soon be out of date or food that restaurants would throw out. Others focus on getting food to those in need, whether that's through monetary or food donations. These apps are a fantastic way for almost anyone to make a difference.

Read more