grow lettuce in winter

Fresh Lettuce In December

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I’ve been experimenting with using the greenhouse through its first season of freezing weather. It’s unheated, so I didn’t want to plant a bunch of stuff in there until I knew if it could survive our cold winter nights. I figured I’d start with lettuce and just see how it does until spring.

Since the greenhouse is on the south side of the house, it’s in full sun all day long. Most days it gets over 80* in there, so it stays plenty warm enough during daylight hours. The other night, however, it got very cold. When I went to check on the lettuce that morning, the thermometer in the greenhouse was below 30*. The lettuce was frost bit, and wilted. It bounced back, though, and is still looking good.

We’ve been eating from this lettuce for about a month now. I’ve been surprised to find a ton of aphids on the leaves. I guess I figured since the plants were inside, and it was cold outside, the aphids wouldn’t be a problem. At first it didn’t seem like they were doing much damage to the leaves, but if you notice the lettuce in the bottom left-hand corner of the photo you will see the damage they caused. That plant is completely dead now. I need to spray some lemon-scented soap water on them (water in a spray bottle with a few drops of lemon scented dishsoap added).

Our greenhouse has slowly been coming along, but here’s a picture of what it looks like at this moment. It’s definitely nothing glamorous, but it works. It’s more of a storage spot than anything right now. I envision something much more beautiful next summer… hopefully! How do you like that bowed table on the other side of the glass? I just have to laugh about it. Jerry pulled it out of a dumpster at his old workplace. I tried laying it upside down with some heavy weight on it for a couple of weeks, but it didn’t help to flatten it out much. Oh well, it was free and it does the job, right?! I was working on painting and installing lattice around the bottom, but it’s too cold outside now for me to paint anything else for a while. Plus, I need Jerry to fix a piece of lattice as a door so I can use underneath the greenhouse as storage.

Oh… while I’m rambling… when I went outside to take a picture of the greenhouse for you this morning, I was surprised to find a rooster walking around in there! Guess he missed the call when I closed everyone up in the coop last night. At least he found a warm place to roost! Everything is covered in frost this morning, who knows how cold it got out there overnight. The cat sleeps in the greenhouse, too, so he had company. These chickens are so funny sometimes.

Anyways, it’s great to be growing lettuce this late in the year. But I’m thinking this greenhouse gets too cold for heat loving plants such as tomatoes and peppers, without any heat running to it. So, for now, it’s more of a glorified cold frame. I do regret that it wasn’t built on the ground. It would have been nice to be able to plant straight into soil instead of in pots.  It’ll be great for starting seeds in spring, though!

Have you tried growing through the winter in an unheated greenhouse before?

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5 thoughts on “Fresh Lettuce In December”

  1. Hi, First let me say that I enjoy following along with you through your wonderful journey!

    I love that you have lettuce this late in the year. I did have it in the garden until a couple of weeks ago – when I accidently left the row cover off… and the cold nipped it. I am still harvesting cabbages and brocolli. They are in raised beds – with no cover and no bugs. I think it’s too cold for the bugs – I live in East Tennessee – and I guess it hasn’t been that cold yet. This is the first year that I have been able to harvest this late.

    Thanks for your writings…

  2. I just saw a video on Youtube of a family that puts hoops and plastic over their raised beds and garden 12 months out of the year in Virginia. I think they do mostly lettuces and colder crops through the winter, but they get a good bit. I am going to try that this year.

  3. I am jealous!
    The greenhouse looks great.
    I am thinking about recycling some old windows next year to make cold frames for this same purpose, but on a miniature scale.


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