Summer's over, but there's no reason why you can't enjoy fresh, delicious salad greens throughout the winter months. With just a few small adjustments to your gardening methods and techniques,you'll be able to grow your own tasty winter salad greens all year round.
There are several hardy varieties of winter salad greens perfectly suited to colder climates. While the usual spring and summer varieties need warm weather, or a greenhouse, these leafy vegetables can be cultivated even in chilly temps. Learn how to sow seeds for winter salad greens with our easy gardening tips.
6 Tips for Growing Winter Salad Greens
1. Prepare your soil - If you're growing your winter salad greens outside, find a sheltered and sunny spot in your garden. Or choose large and narrow containers or pots for growing in a greenhouse or polytunnel. It's important to choose a spot (or pot) with good drainage as seedlings can freeze if left in pools of water. Sift your soil into a fine grade if using your own compost, and add any necessary nutrients such as lime or potassium to make potting soil.
2. Sowing the seeds - The ideal time for sowing seeds is between early September and late November, depending on the first estimated frost date in your area. Sow your seeds in short and shallow rows, spaced as instructed on your seed packet. Cover with a thin layer of soil and water. If you have sown your seeds outside and a cold night is in the forecast, cover them with a fleece or cloches to protect them. For a continous supply of salad greens, sow seeds apporximately every 3 to 4 weeks.
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3. Caring for your seedlings - Keep the soil moist but don't let it get too wet, as the seedlings can die from the chill. Don't water your winter salad greens in the evening or too early in the morning.
4. Thinning your greens - If you have sown ample seed, your beds or pots will have likely have too many seedlings trying to grow in them. You can thin them so that the ones you've left have ample growing space. Use the thinned baby greens in a salad!
5. Harvesting your greens - Your winter salad greens are ready for harvest when they are about 4 inches tall. Harvest the outer leaves, letting the smaller inner leaves form to full size.
6. Suggested varieties:
Arctic King Lettuce - a large butterhead type lettuce that is light green and crunchy.
Texsel Greens - fast-growing leaves similar to spinach, also known as Ethiopian greens.
Land Cress - an alternative to watercress, hardy and spicy.
Rouge d'Hiver Lettuce - dark green and reddish leaves, tender and similar to red Romaine lettuce.
CanCan Endive - hardy and light green with a frisee type texture.
Golden Purslane - Similar to the hardy Winter Purslane, but with golden leaves and red stems or a colorful salad.
Mizuna Greens - Japanese greens similar to arugula but less spicy and more tender.