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Leafy greens get an early start at Mockingbird Hill

Staff writer

Green leafy vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, C, and K.

Darlene Carlson, owner of Mockingbird Hill Gardens in rural Lincolnville, grows a wide variety of greens that she sells at farmer’s markets in Hillsboro and Marion.

The greens currently growing in her garden were started in her greenhouse and transplanted to her garden around April 1. She used cypress chips as mulch.

The colors range from purple to dark green and light green. The vegetables include celery, kale, Swiss chard, broccoli, endive, arugula, romaine, collards, mustard greens, and Garland Chrysanthemum, a Chinese original.

Carlson prepares the greens for sale by picking leaves from each of the plants and combining them in a zip-lock bag. The greens can be served in salads or cooked.

With good care, Carlson can keep the greens growing and harvestable from early spring to fall. She said she freezes whatever she doesn’t sell, using it for cooking later.

“Some people might not like these greens,” she said. “But we like them because they have a lot of nutrition.”

Everything Carlson produces is grown organically. She enhances the garden soil each fall and spring by adding organic matter such as compost, manure, and rice hulls. Feather meal and blood meal are added to provide nitrogen. Where necessary, she uses peat moss and sulphur to increase the acidity of the soil.

Many of these enhancements are purchased in Lawrence, which is a hotbed of organic gardening.

Carlson uses drip hoses to irrigate the soil. Her husband, Glenn, is her right-hand man, helping her wherever needed.

Later in the season, when destructive bugs will begin to appear and attack the plants, Carlson will be scouting for them and picking them off one by one.

The leafy greens are just the tip of the iceberg for Carlson. She produces a wide array of other vegetables, fruits, cut flowers, and ornamental plants. At least 900 plants fill the greenhouse, waiting to be sold or transferred to garden beds.

Carlson plans to be at Marion when the first farmer’s market opens May 6.

Last modified April 22, 2015

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