Fall & Winter Growing Guides

Greens

Lettuce

Seed DepthSeed SpacingSoil Temp for Germ.Days to Germ.Thin Plants To Approximately 800 seeds per gram.
One gram will sow 15 row feet.
1/8″See Below40-75°F2-1510-16″

Lactuca sativa
Lettuce seed can be sown every month from February-October, either outside or in cold frames. To have a nearly year-round, continuous supply you only need five or six sowings timed to your situation and microclimate. The Dutch, French, and English breeders have done most of the work on cool season varieties, and we offer the best of those here.

CULTURE: Most leafy green vegetables are hardy, cool season crops that can withstand cold weather (down to zone 6) and rains with minimal covering. Cold frames or cloches can be used during severe winter weather (down to zone 5) to prevent freezing or to lessen the effect of heavy rain that will damage the leaves. Many lettuces and greens will germinate well at soil temperatures as low as 40°F, and most grow best when the air temperature is between 50–70°F. Pay close attention to individual variety characteristics for hot weather planting. Lettuces and greens can be sown either directly into the garden or seeded indoors and transplanted out. With a bit of planning you can create a continual harvest of salad greens for your table year–round by sowing these seeds every 3 weeks.

TO DIRECT SOW: Seed 1 inch apart in rows 18 inches apart. Cover seeds lightly and firm gently. As soon as two or three true leaves have formed, thin leaf type lettuces to 8–10 inches and heading types to 12 inches apart.

FOR TRANSPLANTS: Sow 3–4 seeds per inch in sterile seeding mix 3 weeks prior to planting out. Optimum soil temperature range for germination: 40–75°F. Days to emergence: 2–15 days. Transplant individual plants into pots or cell trays. Remember to harden off your transplants for 4–6 days before planting out by reducing water and setting outdoors in a sheltered location. Leafy green vegetables require a moderately fertile soil. One cup of our complete fertilizer per 10 row feet will give adequate nutrition.

INSECTS/PESTS: As most greens are fast growers they don't have many pests. Aphids can be washed off with a strong spray of water and any slug problems can be controlled with diatomaceous earth, slug baits, or traps.

HARVEST: Remember that a stand of salad greens only remains in prime eating condition for about three weeks. Consider succession plantings so that you may enjoy fresh garden salads all season long. Even though picking individual leaves will help extend the season somewhat, all will eventually become tough and bitter as they began to bolt. We've found rinsing greens under warm tap water can help reduce bitterness.

SEED SPECS: Minimum germination standard: 80%. Usual seed life: 3 years. Days to maturity are calculated from date of direct seeding; subtract 10‐15 days if transplanting.

Lettuce Mixes and Gourmet Salad Blends: Broadcast seed over a 4x4 foot area for a 2–3 month winter harvest.

Gourmet Greens

Seed DepthSeed SpacingSoil Temp for Germ.Days to Germ.Thin Plants To Seed counts are listed in the variety description.
1/4-1/2″See Below50-70°F2-156-12″

Savor the flavors that fill the kitchens of Europe. Fast and easy to grow, greens are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Enjoy them in soups, lightly steamed, or raw for a low calorie and highly nutritious part of your diet.

CULTURE: Gourmet greens are cool season crops that perform best in rich, well-drained soil in full sun. Most will withstand moderate freezes (down to 20°F) with some cover. Rapid continuous growth is essential for a good yield and high quality. Plants grow best when the average air temperature is between 60–70°F. These varieties are best direct sown into well worked ground. Sow 1/4–1/2 inch deep and 1–2 inches apart. Keep the soil uniformly moist for best germination. After germination thin plants 6–12 inches. Covering the seed with a piece of Reemay will help deter birds and improve germination.

DISEASE: Good rotation practices and garden sanitation are essential for disease control. Proper plant spacing that allows adequate air circulation will help to prevent molds. Tunnels and cloches will greatly improve quality and disease control in winter crops.

INSECTS: Aphids can be a problem but can be controlled with water sprays, Pyrethrin or Azatrol.

HARVEST: Harvest can begin as soon as the leaves are large enough to eat. Overmature greens are often bitter and tough. Frequent harvests are essential for best quality.

Spinach

Seed DepthSeed SpacingSoil Temp for Germ.Days to Germ.Thin Plants To Approximately 80 seeds per gram.
1/2″1″50-70°F6-213-6″

Spinacia oleracea
Spinach is amazingly hardy and an important food and vitamin source in fall and early winter. If sown in July to early August, spinach in mild climates yields a full crop until Christmas, and then will rest until March. Plant in late August for a spring crop of beautifully sweet leaves. In December when it really starts to get cold outside, pick spinach leaves heavily. Leave a small amount of leaves, which will help to see the plant through until it begins to re-grow in spring.

CULTURE: Spinach needs rich well-drained soil; it becomes diseased and dies in poorly drained soil. Sow 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart in rows separated by at least 12 inches. Thin to 3 inches apart in the row, further if large individual plants are desired. Refer to the Gourmet Greens culture box for more growing tips.

SEED SPECS: Minimum germination standard: 65%. Usual seed life: 1 year.

Swiss Chard

Seed DepthSeed SpacingSoil Temp for Germ.Days to Germ.Thin Plants To Approximately 50 seeds per gram.
1/2″2-3″50-75°F5-1710-16″

Beta vulgaris, Cicla Group
Sow in July to early August for winter use. The earlier sowings should have mid-sized leaves for harvest through autumn and winter. Later sowings will make smaller plants, but still worthwhile. If Swiss chard dies back in severe weather, trim to a nub so it won't rot, and it will re-grow in spring.

SEED SPECS: Minimum germination standard: 75%. Usual seed life: 2 years.