Leafy Greens to Grow in Cool Seasons

Get which greens to grow in the cool season for easy gardening tips and planting.

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Growing Fresh Greens in the Cooler Months

Are you a gardener who enjoys growing leafy greens?  I sure do, the color selections capture my attention right away.

Gardening for me goes beyond fresh produce, it’s about texture, color and putting it all together.

Which means I may not be your typical gardener… In my free time, I enjoy watercolor painting because it’s calming.

When I bring that sense of calm to the garden, it’s my way of bringing creativity to life in a positive environment.

So, for me growing leafy greens is a little deeper than nutritional value.  It’s the sense of appreciating the coloration these plants offer during the cooler seasons.

Growing Leafy Greens Down South

Here down south, Fall is the perfect time to add lettuce and greens to the garden. They simply can’t handle our sunlight from June – September so when October arrives, I get really excited.

My garden almost always has leafy greens available from October – May.  They’re easy to grow and harvest, offering southern gardeners about a 9- month growing season which is fabulous.

For everyone else, I’ve got great news…  You can still grow lettuce during this period.

My grandmother did and I remember her praising the fresh lettuce she grew over winter while everybody else was buying greens from the store.

She was so proud and I believe deep down, that encourages me to plant every fall.

I figure if she could grow it in the PNW through dreary long winters well I could do it down here. Especially since we have beautiful sparks of sunlight even when the temperatures drop.


Begin Planting Leafy Greens

I like to begin planting with spinach because cooked greens with melted butter is heavenly.

Adding chopped spinach with herbs to an omelet is also good and who doesn’t love spinach with grilled fresh water fish?

Okay, that last suggestion may be a personal favorite?

If you like spinach, I have great news…  It’s available in nurseries now.  There may not be a huge selection but most locations will have a variety of greens to pick from.

Note: Choose nurseries dedicated to offering all types of plants beyond bloomers.

Now, let’s see what else we can plant…

Growing Cabbage Greens

Cool Season Cabbage

Some folks don’t refer to cabbage as a leafy green, but I do because it blends beautifully with the others I grow.

If you transplant mature starters now, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor in the early spring.  Of course, if you have a mild fall and winter, they may mature earlier than spring.

Take note that growing cabbage is very easy and will also need covering when the temperatures freeze.  Get my Cabbage growing tips here.

Growing Lettuce in Raised Boxes

Planting Lettuce in Starter Boxes

Lettuce is probably my favorite green because I love it fresh with oil and vinegar.

I grow a couple varieties in direct sunlight using our Seed Starter Boxes. When the freeze arrives,  I place the lid on top.  It’s so easy!

This particular crop was from last winter, I planted in the fall and it grew through February.  I wanted you to see what they looked like after surviving winter because lettuce can be tricky and sometimes it will expire early.

Last winter for us was horribly wet, on the days when it felt like it would never stop raining, I covered the box to keep these plants from rot and the soil from getting water logged.  This worked like a charm…

To offset expired lettuce, begin new seeds indoors and transplant when seedlings mature.

Note: This tip may not be possible in areas where winters are severe.

These seed boxes are one of my favorite gardening projects because I can use them for smaller plants in addition to starting seeds.


Growing Kale in raised beds

Love my Kale

Finally, my last favorite green to grow is Kale.  Robert kind of laughs at me when I grow Kale and says, “You know, at one time that grew wild.”

Reminding me that it’s basically a weed that’s now a trendy green.

Regardless I love this one and it’s easy to grow; you can almost skip covering with light freezes because it’s extremely hardy.

Get my Kale growing tips here.

As you can see my favorite leafy greens include, spinach, cabbage, a variety of lettuce and kale.  Growing these greens in the cool seasons can be one of the least difficult gardening activities if you remember these tips:

  • Begin with fertilized soil.
  • Plant in direct sunlight and keep the soil from getting water logged.
  • Harvest leafy greens regularly so they continue growing for future harvesting.
  • Cover when temperatures freeze.
  • If lettuce plants rot, begin new seeds indoors and transplant on a warm afternoon.
  • Enjoy your harvest and smile.
  • What doesn’t mature in the fall will in the Spring.

You may also enjoy growing a variety of collards, they have a mild flavor many gardeners prefer.

So, what are you waiting for?  if you haven’t planted leafy greens just yet then visit your local nursery and select a few for your garden space.

I found that winter is just better with fresh greens from the garden and you’ll probably find yourself smiling as grandma did.


Additional articles you may enjoy, Direct Compost at Grandma’s and Use Burlap to Protect Plants from Freeze.

Growing Fresh Greens in the Cooler Months


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  1. daisy says:

    We are blessed here in NC to be able to grow things through the winter. Last year, I tried a new variety of kale, called Premier, that did quite well, as well as my standard Vates variety, which doesn’t mind the cold one bit. I’m hoping when I go out to water today that my winter crops have germinated.
    Enjoy your greens!

    1. Carole says:

      Sounds like you’re going to be enjoying leafy greens all winter. Congrats Friend!

  2. Christine says:

    Great tips, Carole, although I’m not set up right now to grow any greens, it might be an option in the future. I am definitely NOT a kale fan but I do love spinach. Michael says it’s all rabbit food LOL, but he does eat cooked greens without a complaint.

    1. Carole says:

      Definately something to plan for when you move because I get not wanting to start new projects when you don’t plan on staying. That’s where I’m at right now so I’ve been sketching out my future garden because I love to dream. Robert is the same way, he eats herbs and broccoli.

  3. Patti says:

    I did not know that Kale grew wild! Now that I have my cold frame I’m thinking about growing some greens. I’ve grown mesclun salad mix before it a small container and it was great. Just need to make time during this busier than usual time of year.

    1. Carole says:

      Yes put that cold frame to work, you’ll be glad you did. Once set up it will take little effort to keep it going. I like to add leafy greens to soup, that was something my grandma did and I followed. Cooked greens are also good with oil and vinegar. Over winter I seem to prefer greens lightly cooked over fresh.

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