December is a slow time in the garden. There really is not much that you can do, aside from feeding, weeding and general maintenance of the plants. There is nothing that can be planted this time of year. The next two months are just too cold. There is a way around this, however… it is to use a cold frame, or mini greenhouse.

This week I planted lettuce. It is too late to plant lettuce in a regular garden. The soil is too cold for the seeds to germinate, and a frost or freeze will kill young seedlings. If you use a cold frame, you create warmer daytime and nighttime temperatures, and warm up the soil under that cold frame. It will allow you to grow things that normally will not grow this time of year.

Since we had a freeze a couple weeks ago, I removed the peppers and eggplant from one of my gardens. In it’s place I planted lettuce seedlings that I had started inside. In this section of garden I also installed a cold frame. This will allow the lettuce to grow, since it will be a little bit warmer.

Growing lettuce through the winter is a 50/50 endeavor. Some years the lettuce will grow, some years the cold will kill it. Winter lettuce planted outside grows very slowly in cool weather. When planted in a cold frame, you can achieve warm weather growth in the winter, and have lettuce grow on a normal schedule.

In the WBTW garden, this week under a cold frame I planted kale, romaine lettuce, oakleaf lettuce, buttercrunch lettuce, arugula, bok choy, garlic and spinach. These should grow quickly, even with cooler weather arriving.