A Trick for Growing Fresh Greens in Winter

raw organic collard greensI once asked my grandma how they kept greens in the winter in the old days. She said they used to pull up the collards at the end of the season and plant them all together in a big hole, and then cover them up with pine tops. This protected the greens from the cold air and let the sun shine in as well. This year I decided to update her method and use it in my vegetable garden. I planted a patch of  mixed greens and winter onions at the very end of my garden, next to a pecan tree. The ground here is not favorable for tomatoes, because of the tree roots, but it is fine for onions and greens. I started the greens in August, so they had good roots before the first frost.

I secured a big sheet of clear plastic to the fence near the greens and onions. Before the first frost, I stretched the plastic out over the greens like a lean-to. The plastic sheeting draws moisture to the greens to help keep them growing. As the leaves fell from the pecan tree, they blanketed the plastic, but the sun still shines through the leaves. The fence holds the plastic up enough that it does not mash the greens. I have had a wonderful patch of collards, turnips, arugula, mustard, spinach, and chicory – so far it has lasted all winter long! My Mom’s unprotected turnip patch was dead after the first cold snap.


Eating fresh winter greens is a special treat for me. I usually just fry some bacon and then I chop up some greens and onions in the same iron skillet. I stir fry them with about a half a cup of water and add a lid for a few minutes. Yum! They are not boiled to death and the flavor is great. I can have fresh greens any time. They have already gone through snow and ice. The blanket of leaves protects them and the plastic helps to water them. It is a pretty cheap greenhouse for winter greens. I have definitely found something I will be doing from now on. Try it and I think you will love it. Good luck!


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