We planted our fall garden last weekend. Several weeks from now, we will have a beautiful variety of baby greens, radishes, spinach, and tiny carrots. I can almost taste that first salad now. If you’ve never had fresh lettuce, you don’t know what you are missing. It’s extra crispy, juicy and flavorful. You will realize that those fresh greens at the grocery store aren’t so fresh after all.
In anticipation of lower fall and winter temperatures, we planted our tender lettuce varieties in cold frames set into our raised garden bed. The cold frames contain approximately twenty varieties of lettuce, each one with it’s own unique characteristics… from sweet to peppery. We won’t have freezing temps for quite some time (I hope), so the lids will stay open for now. Later, when the weather gets chilly, the lids will be partially closed at night and opened again during the day. It gets incredibly hot in a closed cold frame during the day, even in the middle of winter. If you don’t have a cold frame, you can cover your greens with a bed sheet, a light tarp or a piece of plastic on cold nights. If you’re feeling industrious, you can also rig up a row cover using PVC pipe and sheets of plastic.
Hardier salad garden plants (spinach, carrots and radishes) are planted outside of the cold frames. I’m especially excited about the carrots. I’ve heard that winter carrots are extra sweet after a frost. My dogs love carrots, but I doubt they will notice the difference between winter carrots and store carrots.
Even though we sowed the seeds earlier this week, some of them have already germinated! I don’t know which is more delightful, watching the winter salad garden grow or eating the fresh greens.
Hey! It’s not too late to plant your fall salad garden. If you don’t have a garden or raised beds, you can grow lettuce directly in soil bags. Set the bags in a sunny spot, slit them open and sow the seed. Be sure to protect the seedlings on frosty evenings. Here’s another idea… create a soil bag garden in a wagon and pull it indoors when the temps are below freezing.
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