Hail to the Hardy Greens
Most garden greens can hardly wait for cool weather to come. They perk up and sweeten up as the mugginess of August fades away. Crops such as spinach, arugula, claytonia and mache, if protected by a cold frame or simple unheated greenhouse, survive the winter in cold climates, to be cut and re-cut for a continuous harvest. Sow them in September in the north, October in warmer parts of the country. They do best hunkering down, close to the earth. Lettuce and endive over-winter best when cut at baby leaf size rather than full-sized heads.
Kale, collards and Brussels sprouts fare better if grown to
full size and left outdoors to soldier on as long as they can, since they do not re-grow if cut back in winter. We can often harvest them for our Christmas table, even in snowy Maine.
Want an endless supply of handy lettuce? After you finish your spring planting, save the six-pack trays and fill them with potting soil. Once a week, sow lettuce seeds in them, keeping them in a spot under 70°F (any warmer and the seeds won't germinate). Transplant them into the garden
wherever a space opens up. It's a great way to keep a kitchen garden looking pretty as well as to give you a more continual lettuce supply.
Succeed with Successions
Everyone likes to have an endless supply of lettuce handy in the kitchen garden - preferably right near the back door. Growing it in the 'cut-and-come-again' style is one good way to achieve a steady supply, but sooner or later, the plants will get tired and bitter and you'll wish you had a fresh plot coming along. Here's a great way to make that happen.
After you've finished your spring planting, save your little six-pack trays and fill them with potting soil. Once a week, sow some lettuce seeds in them and keep them in a spot where the temperature is always under 70°F (any warmer and the seeds won't germinate). Transplant these into the garden wherever a space opens up. It's a great way to keep an ornamental lettuce plot looking pretty and gives you a more continued lettuce supply.