M any leaf vegetables can be challenging to grow during summer months, especially if your garden lacks shade. Longer day light hours induce early seed set, (bolting) in most leaf vegetables. While there are a few cultural practices that will discourage these plants from bolting at this time of year, it is easier to simply grow greens that prefer the warmer months. Try these tasty salad greens in your summer vegetable beds: 

amaranth Red Leaf - Illustration by Helen Krayenhoff

Amaranth (Amaranth spp.) is a highly versatile plant. Not only does it have edible leaves and gluten-free seeds but it can also be grown as an ornamental. Amaranth tricolor is commonly grown for its edible leaves which are high in protein, potassium, and other nutrients. Amaranth leaves are used in many Caribbean and Asian dishes. Tender new leaves make a perfect addition to most salads. Try ‘Red Leaf’ Amaranth found in the Kitazawa Seed Company section.

Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) Bright green leaves, sour + lemony flavor. Leaves can be used as herb or salad green. Likes mild, cool climates and can be harvested over a long period of time. Annual. Check out the variety ‘Large Leaf’ in the Kitazawa Seed Company section.

Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliate) Edible native. Leaves, flowers, and roots can be eaten. Contains vitamins C & A, and iron. Can also act as ground cover or understory for shade-providing trees. Leaves have mild, spinach-y taste. Look for packets in our Larner Section. 

Malabar Spinach (Basella alba) while not technically spinach it is very similar in flavor. It is a gorgeous vine with lush green leaves and a magenta stem. My mother back in the Midwest grows malabar spinach purely for its ornamental value. Seeds for this gorgeous tasty vine can be found in the Seed Saver’s Exchange section. 

Endive (Cichorium endivia) adds texture to salads, has a mild flavor. Can also be used as ornamental in gardens. Does well in mild climates. May be planted with mustard, radicchio, tatsoi. Find “Olesh Tres Fine” Endive in the Botanical Interests section.

Try these greens even if your garden has ideal locations for growing year round cool-season crops. They will diversify many of your dishes with their unique colors, flavors, and textures. Happy Summer Seeding!