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Hi All,

I know it seems kind of early to start thinking of summer, especially with this cold snap.  But summer is right around the corner and our beautiful supply of fresh lettuces, spinach and other tasty winter greens will soon be replaced by squash, corn, okra and the other summer gardening favorites.  But does that mean we have to give up on the idea of salads and other cooked greens from the garden?  NO!!  Well, at least not entirely... we can't grow lettuce during the summer (unless you have a aquaponics DWC set up like Dr. Brooks), so what can you grow?  The Extension Office is working to uncover the answer to just this question.  Last summer was our first trial and we'll be working on round two in 2012.  If you'd like to see a preview of the program here is a summary of the presentation being given at the High Desert Gardening & Landscaping Conference in Sierra Vista this week.

The 2011 results were:

Good Performers

  • Jute leaves
  • Malabar spinach
  • Purslane
  • Amaranth
  • Sweet potato leaves
  • Land seaweed
  • Jamaica leaves (not intentionally part of the study)
  • Chard – did not perform when planted in late spring

Poor Performers

  • Mâche – poor germination
  • Magenta spreen – poor germination
  • New Zealand spinach – poor germination
  • Pumpkin leaves –leaves too big and coarse
  • Green leaf basil – poor germination




Good cooked?

Good raw?


Jute leaves






Mild, tangy









Land seaweed




Spiny with age

Malabar spinach

Like spinach




Sweet potato leaves





Jamaica leaves





  Clear taste Test Winners!

*poor flavor due to over-maturity of plant, much better picked young

original post Feb 2012

Download a PDF of the entire presentation by clicking: Summer Greens 2011 Presentation.pdf

------------------Update May 2017----------------------

I've been doing some more research into alternatives to try for summer greens and have a couple more to add to this list. Longevity Spinach grows very well here.  It's easy to propagate and grow in both containers and in the ground with enough water.  Secondly I've been trying to grow Katuk - with middling success.  It is my favorite flavor, kind of peanutty.

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Comment by Liz & Dan on January 29, 2013 at 2:29pm

Check the date of that last comment I made!  June 19th...  They won't have the summer greens until at least later Feb.  Could ask them when to expect the Malabar again.

Comment by Sean-Michael Bryce Gettys on January 29, 2013 at 11:07am

oh I did not know I could grow some of those right now. I will have to head over to bakers nursery this weekend and pick up some starts!

Comment by Liz & Dan on June 19, 2012 at 10:46am

Sorry I didn't see your posting earlier.  Not too late to plant a lot of these especially the purslane and malabar.  In fact if you go over to Baker, they have Malabar seedlings now and you can always pull some of the purslane that grows under the flower tables outside.  They would be happy for you to take the purslane weeds...

Comment by L Janko on April 14, 2012 at 6:08pm

Very Cool!!  I would love to try some of these!  Is it too late to put in the Jute, Purlane, and Malabar Spinach?  Any suggestions on the best place to get seeds/plants?  THANKS so much for the info!  We had some great greens for the last few months and are going to really miss them this summer! 

Comment by Liz & Dan on March 10, 2012 at 4:50pm

Malabar is a thicker, juicy leaf with a bit of a slimy quality - great for adding to soups, stews and chopped with other greens in a cooked dish, but raw is not my favorite, nor would I use it all by itself in a recipe.  I will add some of it with other greens from the garden and usually cook it into a quiche or phyllo dough or something like that.  Only the tender small leaves would be mixed in with a salad, again, raw it isn't my fav either.

Comment by Michele on March 10, 2012 at 1:23pm

I grew Malabar spinach last summer and it loved the heat and direct sun, too bad I didn't love it back. I found the texture not to my liking either raw or cooked.  It vined and twined itself around a trellis and did great, but I ended up pulling it and using the space for something else. I say give it a whirl!

Comment by Catherine, The Herb Lady on February 16, 2012 at 7:21am

Hi Liz & Dan,

Thank you, nice report.  I enjoyed experimenting with the sweet potato leaves/stems last summer/fall.  FYI on 'raw' use - flash blanch to stop the enzyme action (in boiling water and immediately out into ice water).

I would echo the chard results when planted into the heat, I have had chard go for 18 months doing 'okay' through the summer.

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