Grow Super Summer Salad Greens


Stephen ScottSummer is coming, and for many of us in the warmer areas of the US, that means our beloved salad greens – like spinach and lettuce – are on borrowed time. The arrival of warmer weather is a perfect time to pivot into some really special heat-loving greens that keep our salads fresh, delicious, and interesting. 

In Mexico, there is an entire class of greens that grow in the heat, called quelites (key-LEE-tays) that have a broad meaning, encompassing any edible tender green that grows in the heat of late spring to early fall. A study by the Institute of Biology at the University of Mexico lists over 300 species of quelites belonging to 46 botanical families that are eaten all across Mexico.

We’ll share two greens from Mexico, along with two from India and another from New Zealand. All of these can be planted now, are extremely heat tolerant, are vigorous growers, and don’t need much attention or great soil. 

Let’s start with the vegetables from Mexico.


Huauzontle (wah-zont-lay), or Aztec Spinach, is a relative of quinoa and amaranth with very few equals in the summer garden. Full sun and triple-digit temperatures only bring on more growth for this cut-and-come-again food crop. Harvest the smaller leaves for a milder, spinach-like flavor and fresh use, or the larger leaves for a more robust broccoli-like taste that stands up to cooking. When the flower buds start appearing, strip them off their stems and use like broccoli florets - their mint notes compliment the broccoli overtones. Six to eight plants will provide enough leaves to harvest for daily salads for a family. 

Seeds can be sprouted or grown as micro-greens for a highly nutritious yet extremely tasty treat any time of year. 

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