Mix-mistress Rebecca Miller reveals the secrets to growing perfect greens
Garden Salad, Undressed
by Susie Middleton
If ever there were a year to grow some of your your own food, this would be it. On the Vineyard, you can start now (and I mean right now) by planning a little salad garden, and you’ll have your own supply of delicious greens all summer. You don’t even have to read an entire novel about the miracles of vegetable gardening—just follow a few good tips from Vineyard farmer Rebecca Miller. At the height of the season, Rebecca and her family harvest 300 to 400 pounds a week of their delicious salad mix at North Tabor Farm in Chilmark. This girl knows her greens. Luckily, I was able to catch up with her on a snowy February morning (a good time to nab a farmer) to pick her brain for growing advice.
But first I had to ask her my two burning questions. Why does her salad mix taste so good—and why does it last so long? The answers to both questions lie in her choice of greens. Rebecca doesn’t include any tender lettuce in her salad mix. Her greens (cut quite young and small) are mostly from the Brassica family—Tatsoi mizuna, Green Wave mustard, and red mustard to name a few. The Brassicas, especially the mustards, tend to be spicy. She often adds nutty arugula and earthy Red Russian kale, too. When available, plucky purslane adds succulence, and cress adds zip. Yum. Not only do these greens taste lively, but they hold up a lot better than lettuces. “There’s nothing wrong with putting lettuces in your salad mix,” Rebecca said. “But the greens last longer, and are less prone to rot in damp conditions.” “Whatever you grow, be sure to dry your greens really thoroughly after washing, and they will last much longer,” Rebecca advises. Get friendly with your salad spinner, and store well-dried greens in zip-top bags lined with a paper towel.