Growing leafy greens in winter

It's cold and dark outside, so what could be better than preparing for spring? I do it by growing leafy greens in winter.

En yta i tunnelväxthuset full med gröna växter

I'm growing leafy greens in winter, and this is my result! Beautiful plants are growing in the beds and pots in my polytunnel.


These past few weeks have been so dark and gloomy here in southern Sweden. It has been raining almost every day and the town where I live recently had a record-low number of sunshine hours. We only had 2 hours of sunshine in November, it's crazy! That explains why we felt so happy every time we got to see the sun.

Thankfully, I do have some lovely lush green plants around to lift my spirits. If not in my real garden, then at least online. I'm going through pictures that I want to use for my articles and posts right now. The sheer aliveness of my lovely spring garden makes me feel so happy! I hope that I can share some of that excitement with you. Maybe you can do something right now to get closer to that vision later?

I absolutely understand if you feel discouraged right now, but I promise that it's going to turn around! The light starts coming back at the end of December up here where I live. I can't wait!


Pictures from March

Many of my December sowings start germinating already in January when the sun starts warming the greenhouses. The plants grow quickly. These pictures were taken in March 2019. This was a very cold spring, but my leafy greens were still thriving in my polytunnel.


stående bild med späda vackra gröna spenatblad

I started harvesting my overwintered spinach (I sowed the seeds in the fall of 2018) in March 2019, in my polytunnel.


pyttesmå smala blad som nyligen grott, i ett vackert vårljus

Winter-sown spinach. I sowed the seeds in December 2018 and took the picture in March 2019.


mörkt gröna vackra blad som växer tätt

My beautiful spinach in March 2019. A large pot filled with winter-sown spinach.


späda små ärtplantor på rad med pinnar som stöd

My winter-sown snap peas growing in March, I started harvesting in May. I sowed the seeds in January 2019 in my polytunnel.

Early sowing of leafy greens

  • all of the leafy greens in my polytunnels were either overwintered here, or I sowed the seeds in winter
  • the varieties are hardy and do well in the cold
  • they don't grow at all from November-February, they really get going when the light returns for real though
  • we can easily get 80 degrees (20 degrees Celsius) in the polytunnel already in February
  • we can start harvesting the leafy greens from March-May before planting the summer vegetables


More about growing in winter: Guide to winter vegetables


Growing leafy greens in winter

I really recommend growing leafy greens in winter. I got the idea a few years back when I watched an episode of Monty Don's Gardener's world. The episode was about early broadcast-sowing lettuce and then harvesting the lettuce even before planting the tomatoes. When I grow early vegetables, I often get an entire year's worth of greens that I can put in my freezer. For example spinach and dill.

A greenhouse or polytunnel is a great place to grow a lot of vegetables. If everyone who has access to a greenhouse learns more about what you can grow when I really think that it could make a huge difference. I know it did for me!

I hope that all of you who live even farther north try growing leafy greens in winter too. As long as your polytunnel or greenhouse isn't completely blocked by snow, that is. Make sure to prepare your growing spaces in good time before you get started.


More about leafy greens: Growing leafy greens indoors


Pictures from April

My vegetables had a tough time in April with several nights of frost. The leafy greens in my polytunnel were doing good though. Actually, the cold helps them grow faster (as long as it's not too bad of course.) I can always add a row cover on top to give them some extra protection. The pictures below were taken in April 2019.


en kruka med flikiga mörkt rödgröna blad

This is a lovely Red Russian kale variety that I winter-sowed in a pot in 2018. I started harvesting it in April 2019.


En plantering sedd ovanifrån med ljust gröna plantor och kluster av dill.

Little clusters of dill, planted next to tender little Chinese cabbage plants.


En frigolitlåda fotograferad ovanifrån med gröna plantor i.

My favorite lettuce Cegolaine planted in a styrofoam box in late winter, started harvesting in April 2019.


en välfylld pallkrage med bladgrönsaker, en gammal varmbänk

I sowed leafy greens in my hotbed in February. The picture was taken in April 2019.


små plantor av pak choi växer som fina bladrosetter

I started harvesting my winter-sown bok choy Bonsai in April 2019.


Bild som visar vackert röda rädisor som växer i jorden

Most of the plants in my garden are green and lush in spring. The radishes add an extra splash of color in my beds. I sowed them in my polytunnel beds in February 2019.


En stående bild som visar grönskan i växthuset

So lovely and green in April 2019!


What to grow?

Leafy greens and more:

  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • dill
  • lamb's lettuce
  • summer carrot
  • bok choy
  • arugula
  • kale/black kale


I often write about growing vegetables in winter. Make sure to check out my other articles on the subject by using the search bar here on the blog. And don't forget to swing by my YouTube channel to learn even more about growing vegetables all year round. Good luck growing leafy greens in winter!
/Sara Bäckmo


14. December 2021

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