Winter Greenhouse Salad

The greenhouse has turned out to be bountiful, and a good learning experience. I have tried to grow a number of things that were failures, but in the process we learned a lot. We have also been able to eat fresh greens for the past few winters that weren’t available to us before.

Since we have changed our diet to healthy low carbohydrates and quality proteins, our meals have become more simple, with less ingredients, and contain as much homegrown food as possible. Actually, we have gotten to the point that we have to be very careful what we eat from the store, because most of it makes us sick. But that’s another article for another day.

We are far enough into the winter growing season that the spinach and lettuce in the outdoor, back porch bed is slowing down and buried in oak leaves, while the greenhouse vegetables now provide a good plate of salad fixings.

Small garden bed by the back porch. We have wanted to use this area for a long time.

For these salads I picked…..

Romaine, Buttercrunch and Black Seeded Simpson lettuces
Simpson lettuce

Bloomsdale spinach

Pak Choy cabbage


The cress is still pretty small. I transplanted it from the back porch bed about a month ago since it had really slowed down it’s growth from the weather.


We have finally found a way to eat kale. All of the other ways we have tried, we don’t like because of the strong flavor. Here I pick the leaves when they are about the size of a quarter to half dollar. They are starting to get that kale type of flavor, but mixed in with the other greens, they aren’t noticeable.


The parsley wasn’t growing well back in the herb bed this year, and neither did some of the other herbs. I’m not sure why, but I ended up transplanting them into pots and growing them on the porch instead. Now all of those herbs have moved into the greenhouse to see how they do over the winter. We had a bit of parsley in some of the salads, but it didn’t set well in Frank’s stomach, so it’s just growing in here for now.

When the forecast is in the teens at night, like it is tonight, we cover everything with some frost cloth and turn on a small electric space heater. Tonight is the second time we have used the frost cloth and space heater this winter. I don’t worry about 22*F and above. The water barrels seem to keep everything warm enough and most of the things growing in here are cold hardy plants. The space heater and frost cloth seems to help and we haven’t lost anything yet. Not even the yellow squash, believe it or not, or the flowers.

I never thought this would grow. We haven’t done anything special for it.

It’s nice to be able to tell Frank I’m going to go pick some lunch, even in the winter. I feel like I am providing some good nutrition and at the same time, get to enjoy the process of growing things, something I have always enjoyed.

Until next time, Fern

26 thoughts on “Winter Greenhouse Salad

  1. Hi Grammy, thanks for the welcome. Keep wishing for that greenhouse, it took us 30 years of dreaming and wishing to get this one.Yes, we still have goats…..too many. We had a 14 babies this year, gave 2 away when they were 5 days old, since the first time mom's didn't have enough milk for triplets. They are just now getting old enough to sell and wean. I'll do a a goat tail before long. Good to hear from you, Fern

  2. I'm so glad you're back! I had been checking every few months to see if you were. I missed you both. I had been wondering how the greenhouse was working. I still have one on my wish list. Do you still have goats?

  3. Cauliflower pizza crust???? Fiona, I'm real sorry, but the only thing I can say is yuck!! I'm not surprised your poor chickens wouldn't eat it. But, I hope Ralph enjoyed it.That is really funny. Fern

  4. I swear if Ralph gets me one more cauliflower recipe……..he made me try cauliflower pizza crust….even the chickens looked at me funny when I gave them the left overs (and there was a lot)

  5. WH, the greenhouse is something Fern had wanted for a number of years and we finally got around to building it. It's a far cry from perfect and we have had to make some adjustments – heat, cold, humidity. A certain time of the year we open the screen door into the house and let in the heat.It is cool to have flowers in the winter, plus all the green stuff that Fern makes me eat. Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment.Frank

  6. Kathy, I'll look into it. I occasionally make jokes about broccoli and cauliflower, actually I say they're jokes, but I really hate cauliflower. I just say they're jokes, so as to not offend the Cauliflower Eaters Association of America, you know, the CEAA. But the last time I ate a radish, I was probably still in my dating years and was trying to impress some girl. My face turned red, I broke into an immediate sweat and the next day I had hives. I hope I don't offend anybody from the REAA…..but….I will look into it….OK, done.Frank

  7. If you get a chance, as yucky as radishes can be raw, look up low carb baked/roasted/fried radishes! No hint of radish left, they are like baby potatoes and very low carb.Kathy

  8. I do overwinter some things in the greenhouse, and I start my seedlings there, too. I'll be starting some of them soon. But, Jana, I am really surprised and happy with the ability to feed Frank all winter long. It's not a big greenhouse and we don't produce a lot of food out there in the winter, but it's great to have our own. Of course, during the colder, cloudier times, the plants really slow down and I can't pick everyday. When the sun is out, it makes all the difference. I am still in the early learning stages with this process. There are probably things I can do to increase productivity, but for now we are more than happy with the results. If you have the opportunity, I would definitely recommend giving it a try.Thanks for sharing, Fern

  9. Judy, thank you for the information. We have tried to grow amaranth a time to two, but had no luck. It is supposed to be an invasive type plant, but maybe we'll try again. We were going to raise it for the grain factor. I would assume if humans can eat the greens, then livestock would too.Fern makes me eat my greens everyday. The keys words there are makes me. You get used to it after a while, it's just not quite as tasty as pizza. And you're right, it is nice not to worry about recalls. Thanks again for the info.Frank

  10. Hi, Melissa. We just ran across using washtubs and bus tubs by shear accident. Beware though, sunlight destroys plastic after a couple of seasons. The plastic gets brittle and breaks easily, ending up with the tub on the floor and the handles in your hand. Thanks for reading, Frank

  11. What a joy to have fresh greens in the winter. Being from Texas, it seems that most greenhouses here are just used for over wintering pot plants or starting seedlings. I may have to reconsider a greenhouse. I eat so many salads and hate having to buy lettuce from the store. Your salad looks yummy. Jana

  12. I haven't tried it before but got saw a note from Baker Creek Seeds about amaranth greens and did a little research and they seem to be something I will add to my list of greens we grow. Lots of vitamins, minerals, drought and heat tolerant and slower to bolt than most greens. Your greens in the greenhouse look great. Isn't it nice to go pick your own greens without thinking there may be a recall for some disease they're carrying?

  13. I have been told the same, Deborah, by staff at the nursing home. I go to see Mom several times a week and have tried to get to know many of the staff by name. I always let them know the things I notice about Mom each visit, how she interacted, or didn't. It's not a situation I would wish on anyone. None of us want to end up there, but sometimes circumstances dictate otherwise. Thanks for the comment. I'm glad the care is available for those that need it.Fern

  14. swore never to put a parent in nursing home sleep deprivation and my need for major surgery changed that it may comeadvice from our doctor when you select a nursing home be there often staff seems more careful when relatives come frequently

  15. No, we haven't tried radish greens, Fiona, because radishes are yucky!! Kind of like cauliflower. It's funny how some people like things and other really, really don't. With the small space heater this morning when the sun was just coming up, the outside temperature was 21* and the greenhouse was 32* (on the top shelf thermometer). It warms up quickly when we have sunny mornings like today. As the morning went along I got these readings.Outside 22* / Greenhouse 38*Outside 23* / Greenhouse 40*Outside 27* / Greenhouse 72* – the thermometer down by the floor was 48* – This last reading was about 10:30am.I always find the temperature variations between outside and the greenhouse to be interesting. On cloudy days the greenhouse will usually warm some, very gradually, but still a little.Good for you on the venison. And thank you, it's good to be back. Fern

  16. A greenhouse is our next target. We seeded cover crops of mustard, kale, beets and daikon radish’s. We had some onions we misses somehow come up and are using the tops of them like chives. [they were under the volunteer pumpkins] We have managed to use the greens most of the winter. Your meals look wonderful.We too find eating out has a negative impact on how we feel. This fall we added Venison to the deep freeze and that has added a nice variety to the meat supply. Have you tried radish tops as greens, they are quitegood when they are small.Glad your back👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

  17. Leigh, did you use a polycarbonate material for the skylight in your barn? I think it's very similar to what we used to build the greenhouse. Works great!The frost cloth I ran across years and years ago at Lowe's in a bin of stuff. It also works great, out in the garden and in the greenhouse. I found some online a number of years ago and stocked up on some more. I think it would work well in your hoop house. It's more durable than I thought it would be at first, so even though I got more for back up, I'm still using the original stuff. I don't have to use it often, but it dries, folds and stores well without breaking down.I don't remember what type of kale this is. It's not the real curly kind. I'll have to find the seed package and compare. Thanks for the idea.Fern

  18. I was wondering how your greenhouse is doing! I'm delighted to see that it's thriving in there. Greenhouse is on our project list, maybe once we finish repairs. I've not heard of frost cloth so I'll have to keep that in mind. My hoop house alone didn't keep things from freezing. Maybe you need a different variety of kale. I don't care for the Scotch but really like Dwarf Siberian. Nutty milder flavor.

  19. Hi, Larry. Thank you for sharing. As you are aware there are many stages of Alzheimer's. Some come quickly, then slow, and at times it can be tough. It's been real tough for Fern. I hope you have family and friends close, and I hope that your loved one can stay at home as long as possible. What I am about to say is tough, but there may come a point some day that you have to shift your focus from your loved one to yourself. What I mean by that, you also have to take care of yourself, too, and that is real difficult to do sometimes. Stay close to your loved ones and be open to their advice. Sometimes outsiders can see delicate topics that may be hard to see ourselves. Take care of yourself. Enjoy your gardening. May Peace be with you. Frank

  20. Welcome Back Frank & Fern! I've been following you're posts since the return. In regards to the Dementia/Alzheimer's post my wife of 54 yrs was diagnosed 6 years ago. it's tough watching this disease. But she's at home and still recognizes family and me. And I'm not giving up on her.I've experienced a set back also. I lost big and next toe on right foot but I'm able to walk yet. I still plan on gardening and preparing for the eventual collapse. it's not if but when. I'd rather be ahead of the curve than behind. The political climate continues to deteriorate here in Illinois. The state has lost one Million residents since last Census. Not being in the workforce isolates me somewhat from the tax turmoil as I am retired.I'll keep looking forward to the posts.Larry from N.W. ILLINOIS

  21. We dreamed of a greenhouse for about 30 years before we finally built one, CW. It is a little educational unit all by itself. Not only does it teach us, it feeds us a little as well. I told Frank the other day that I still find it amazing to look out the window into the greenhouse each morning. It is still like a dream, but a dream that has come true. Some things are worth the wait. Thanks for the comment.Fern

  22. We planted Swiss Chard around the edge of that back porch bed the first year, SJ. I read it has a deep root and wanted it to pull up some minerals, as well as help hold the new loose dirt in place on the edge of the bed. We ate a little cooked in with turnip greens, but not many. There are still a couple of them surviving out there after two years.Spinach doesn't grow well in the greenhouse. It gives a whole new meaning to 'baby spinach' since it doesn't get much bigger than a half dollar. The pak choy and kale get a lot bigger leaves than the spinach. It actually grows better in that back porch bed. That's the only place I have ever successfully grown any spinach. Successfully meaning the leaves get twice as big as the ones in the greenhouse, so comparatively speaking, still pretty small. The lettuce loves both places. Fern

  23. Fern, I remember back when you and Frank put so much effort into planning and constructing your greenhouse. Well, it certainly turned out to be a wise AND delicious investment of your time and energy! I have to say I am just a teeny weeny bit \”green\” with envy. Thank you so much for sharing…CWfromIowa

  24. So fun for me to see how the greenhouse has turned out for you two. I'm not a fan of kale at all. I still have not found a variety that I like. I love chard, however. I cut it early and immature for salads. When it gets away from me, I steam it like I would spinach. I love spinach but can't seem to get it to grow for me. Your lunch looks yummy!Cheers, SJ in Vancouver

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