Even though it is winter, people still ask me about my garden… and yes, I keep it growing through the winter! Two of my three backyard gardens are full this winter. The third doesn’t get much direct sunlight in the winter, so I leave it mostly empty.
Everything I am growing this winter is doing well. We have had enough warm weather to promote growth, and the cold spells that we have had have not been too extreme. Among the winter veggies I am growing are carrots, beets, turnip, radishes, cabbage, collard greens, kale, swiss chard, and lettuce.
Lots and lots of lettuce! I had some really nice lettuce started in September, but for the second year in a row, my garden was flooded and I had to start from scratch. I ended up going to the garden store and buying some lettuce already started… plus I had some seedlings getting bigger in the cold frame. I bought a packet of mixed lettuce seeds, plus I was trying to use up last year’s seeds. So I had ALOT of seedlings.
Thankfully, my family loves fresh lettuce. Since the hurricane, the seedlings are now full sized heads of lettuce, and every free spot in my gardens are taken up by lettuce. I also had to put lettuce in my tomato pots once we had our first freeze. I do not harvest the lettuce as heads, but instead trim individual leaves off the lettuce as they get big. This will keep them growing until spring, and if they get tall and skinny, I can just dig them up and plant them deeper… it is like they will start over.
Lettuce will survive most winters here in the Carolinas. I have had one winter in the past 10 where the cold weather killed my lettuce. Normally during a cold snap, the lettuce will wilt in the cold, but will perk right back up again once it warms up. During cold weather, lettuce in the garden grows very slowly, and my family can eat it faster than it will grow. I grow some lettuce in a cold frame from December through February so it will keep growing fast during our coldest weather. Once March comes along, the cold frame is too warm for lettuce, and it will have to be chopped down or moved. By that time of year, I need that space for summer seedlings anyway.