Growing Greens on Your Patio

By Misty Kuceris, Horticulturalist ©2019

Fall is the time for cold crops. These are edible plants which love to grow in the cool months of Fall. The most common cold crop is lettuce. But there are other cold crops as well: beans, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, peas, radishes, spinach, and Swiss chart.

Normally cold crops can’t withstand the winter months. But there is a way to extend your cold crop greens throughout the winter months. It’s simple and fun. And a great project for the kids. To get started, all you need are the following tools:

  • Plastic storage box (I used a 71 quart size box)
  • Screwdriver
  • Box cutter or scissors (The box cutter is easier to use)
  • Bag of potting mix – one that will fit the lid of your plastic box (I used a 12 quart size bag)
  • Seeds of the greens you want to plant

The steps to follow are easy:


Take the lid of the box and place the potting mix in the lid. Using your screwdriver, poke holes on one side of the bag. When you’re done, turn the bag over so the holes are on the bottom. These are drainage holes.




Now using your box cutter or scissors, cut out the top of the potting mix. While you can use the scissors, you will find that this is easier with a box cutter.

Once the top is off, remove about half of the potting mix since there’s more in the bag than you need.



Sow the various seeds of greens that you want to grow during the winter months. Do this by taking the screwdriver and creating a small furrow for the seeds to go into. Don’t put down too many seeds. You won’t need as many as you think. Once you’ve planted the seeds, water them. You can place labels for the type of plants if you want.



Now that the seeds are planted and watered, just use the base of the box as the cover. What you’ve actually done is create a terrarium garden or a cold frame garden. Keep an eye on the box. If you see moisture drops inside the box, you don’t need to water it. If you’re not sure, just lift the box and add a little more water. I only needed to water the greens once between December and April. When the temperatures get below freezing during winter, you may want to cover this “garden” with an old blanket during the evening to protect the greens from frost bite.

Normally the best time to start this project in Northern Virginia is in September, about two months before the first hard frost occurs which is usually the end of October. But in honesty, I started my project in December and still found success.

What’s great about this project is that you don’t have to have a large yard. My “cold frame” (or terrarium) garden was on my deck, just outside my kitchen door so I could walk out when I was preparing food and grab whatever greens I needed.


My successful results

in April!





You can now watch Misty’s television show, Gardening with Burke Nursery. which airs on Tuesday, on Fairfax Public Access. This show is underwritten by Burke Nursery & Garden Centre. You can also view the programs on YouTube, Gardening with Burke Nursery.

2 Comments on “Growing Greens on Your Patio”

  1. 1 Susan said at 12:14 am on August 31st, 2019:

    If I don’t have cable or TV, only internet, how do I access the podcasts?

  2. 2 misty-admin said at 3:45 pm on September 1st, 2019:

    The shows will also appear on You Tube over the next few weeks.

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