The Complete Guide To Leafy Greens | Recipes, Harvesting, & FAQs

Leafy greens are the beautiful, abundant, and nutritious greens we think about whenever we think of salad. Kale, Spinach, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Arugula, Lettuce, and more!

These plants are loaded with vitamins and minerals and can do a lot more than just provide a base for your salads.

What are the different leafy greens that you can grow?

Curly Kale or Dino Kale:

Kale is a powerhouse – it is easy to grow, easy to harvest, and can keep growing for months to never leave you without a nice supply of kale. This leafy green is truly a SUPER food. It can be planted in the fall or winter, as well as harvested throughout these months continuously. It does well standing up to the frosts of winter or severe weather, and can even become sweeter and more tender through the hard times. 

Cabbage or Purple Cabbage:

Cabbage is a crazy cool green, with over 400 varieties of the plant, this baby has been harvested longer down the history line than any other plant on record. 


Spinach has the power to grow very quickly and can be harvested about a month after planting.

Lettuce or Drunken Woman Frizzy Lettuce:

Lettuce is a plant that thrives in temperatures ranging from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and lettuce can reach maturity 30 days into planting. Lettuce is easy to harvest, normally harvested 30-70 days after planting, and can pretty much be harvested whenever it reaches a size you feel comfortable and content with!


Arugula is a green that matures and grows quickly and should be ready to harvest within 6 to 8 weeks after planting. This green has a bite and requires a bit more sunlight than other leafy greens. The leaves taste best at a younger age, as older leaves have a tendency to be a bit tough!

Bok Choy:

Like Arugula, Bok choy craves the full face of the sun. It can tolerate a little bit of shade in the afternoon. When it is young, it is important to keep it out of temperatures lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, as it will bolt into flower budding immediately. The same goes for warm temperatures. They are normally ready to harvest 60 days or less after sowing.

What is the best way to harvest leafy greens? 

Harvesting leafy greens are simple! Generally, they are ready to harvest whenever you are and whenever you see leaves that are big enough to eat…

Harvesting Kale:

To harvest, grasp the leaf in one hand and simply snip off along the base near the stem using pruning shears. Fully matured kale leaves are about the size of your hand. Once the leaves are this size, your kale is ready and you should quickly harvest, as they’ll go bitter shortly after this. The largest and oldest leaves are usually found at the base of the plant. You’ll be able to tell because they’re the largest. Harvesting older leaves first will ensure that your kale plants don’t bolt. 

Here’s a guide to harvesting kale so it keeps growing!

Harvesting Cabbage:

After between two to six months, your cabbage should be ready to harvest and enjoy. Mature heads are large, firm to the touch, and surrounded by larger outer leaves. To harvest your cabbage, take a sharp knife to the bottom of the cabbage head. If you want to keep growing your cabbage plant, leave the loose outer leaves and take only the cabbage head. 

Here’s an in-depth guide on harvesting cabbage!

Harvesting Spinach:

Once your spinach plants have outer leaves that are large enough to eat, that is when you will know it is time to harvest. Always make sure to harvest spinach starting by clipping off the outer leaves, and then working your way inward. It’s best to leave the inner leaves alone so that they can continue their growth. 

Here’s our guide to harvesting and growing spinach!

Harvesting Lettuce:

Your lettuce is ready to harvest when you are! With lettuce, maturity is partially about the preference of taste and size. Younger leaves are tender, while more mature leaves are milder. Either cut off the entire bundle at the base or remove a few leaves at a time. Choose a method based on your culinary needs that day!

Here’s our guide to harvest and how to grow lettuce!

Harvesting Arugula:

When you are ready to harvest your arugula leaves, be sure to harvest them in the evening. This helps to reduce soggy leaves. Baby arugula leaves can be cut whenever the leaves reach several inches in size; all you need to do is snip just the outer leaves so the plant can continue to grow.

Here’s our guide on how to grow and harvest arugula!

Harvesting Bok Choy:

Bok Choy is ready to harvest when you see leaves that look big enough to eat. Pull them from the outside of the plant, keeping the roots and head intact so you can reap a bountiful harvest all season long!

Leafy Greens FAQs

How much light do leafy greens need to grow?

Most leafy greens prefer full sunlight but will continue to grow and thrive in partial shade.

Should I water leafy greens every day? 

Yes! Water your leafy green garden early in the morning or late in the afternoon. 

What is the best way to plant leafy greens? 

You can direct sow seeds or use plant transplants. To cultivate your own transplants, start your seeds indoors by growing them in a citrus peel, eggshell, or mini pot. 

What are good growing companions for leafy greens? 

Other leafy greens! 

Can I eat the stems as well as the leaf?

Yes, but they are tougher and more bitter than the leaves.

Best outdoor temperature for growing leafy greens?

Most greens prefer cooler weather to grow, while greens like Swiss Chard can tolerate and grow in warmer temperatures of summer. Thus, fall and winter are the best seasons to plant these bountiful babies. Keeping your greens in the 55 to the 70-degree range is best.  

Three recipes with leafy greens?

  1. Kale Salad with Apples and Toasted Almonds
  2. Romaine Lettuce and Avocado Buddha Bowl
  3. Vegetarian Macro Bowl

Are leafy greens good for you? 

Yes! Mama always said to eat your greens for a reason! 

  • Kale, for example, is the superfood of all superfoods. This glorious green is loaded with vitamins such as magnesium and calcium. It has so many nutrients that one cup of cooked kale is 1000% more loaded with vitamin C than one cup of cooked spinach. 
  • Cabbage is great for promoting healthier skin, nails, and hair. It has ample amounts of Vitamin C and can even relieve an excruciating headache with its juice!
  • Spinach promotes healthy glucose levels, bone strength, and is great for implementing calcium, magnesium, and iron into your diet. There is a reason Popeye used Spinach to gain his strength! 
  • Lettuce is extremely hydrating.
  • Arugula is high in fiber, low in sugar, and high in many key vitamins. 
  • Bok Choy is praised for its ability to decrease inflammation and the likelihood of cancer.