Lettuce

2015 Lettuce report

Our lettuce plot has been producing well. We've had some prolonged hot weather recently, but have managed to maintain a continuous supply (see our Perpetual Lettuce post).

This year's new heat-tolerant green leaf variety - Nevada (lower left in photo) is a keeper. We began with Black Seeded Simpson in the spring, but transitioned to Nevada as the season progressed.

 

Perpetual Lettuce

For years, we’ve put up with uneven lettuce harvests -- too much some weeks and none at all on others. We knew that the key to a continuous harvest was to plant more regularly throughout the season, so we decided to schedule our lettuce space.

We divided the space in 4 beds (based on an 8 week seed-to-harvest schedule). The first plantings were sown indoors in March. In April, we began transplanting the indoor seedlings and planting seed in the garden. The plan is to harvest from each bed for 2 weeks, then immediately replant the bed and begin harvesting from the next bed.

Our first lettuce harvest was on May 24th and it’s looking like we’re on track to keep the plan going for the rest of the season. Voila, perpetual lettuce!


Special thanks to Dick for providing the post title.

The Babies are Almost Ready to Leave the House

Some of the seedlings that I'm fostering under lights are almost ready to go outside into the garden. Seen here are several different kinds of lettuce, leeks, spinach, red and green cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.  The cabbage and Brussels sprouts are a bit slower and will probably need another week under the lights.

2013 Greens (end of season notes)

Arugula: did well in shady spot, needed 3 plantings this year
Basil: started indoors and from seed in garden, all did well
Bok Choi: first planting did well, subsequent plantings did less well – one planting next year?
Cilantro: did well, needed 3 plantings (only got 2), not very popular – less next year?
Kales, Collards & Swiss Chard: seeded in garden, excellent spacing and productivity
Lettuce: need to plant every 2 weeks for continuous harvest – try new butterhead & romaine varieties?
Mesclun: did well, but not terribly popular – plant less or use space for lettuce next year?
Spinach: success! great germination and beautiful early & late season plants (left to winter over) – repeat next year?

A Major Spring Planting Day

seed planting and lettuce seedlings

 

Patriot's Day weekend is a terrific time to plant the bulk of the spring seeds and seedlings (at least, here in Massachusetts). We were fortunate to have fantastic weather, and a 57.5° soil temperature.

 

We planted seeds of Arugula, Bok Choy, Carrots (a rainbow of varieties), Collards, Kale (green & dinosaur), Leeks, Mizuna, Mustard, Onions (red, white & yellow), Radishes, Scallions, Swiss Chard and Turnips (salad & cross types).

 

We also planted seedlings of Broccoli, Cabbage (green & red) and Spinach. Cauliflower seedlings would have been planted as well, but they weren't yet available from our local farm supplier.

 

The seeds and seedlings from previous weeks are growing fast. The Lettuce seedlings are particularly colorful!

Alas, our water supply remains unavailable, requiring the transport of dozens of gallons of water to the garden to give all the new seeds and seedlings a drink during the recent dry spell.

mid-June harvest and growth

A smaller crew this morning at the garden, but plenty of visitors (particularly very young ones, we hope they lay down some fundamental memories of their visit).

The harvest was still mostly thinnings (kale, onions, arugula that was bolting) plus the last of our seedling-origin lettuce, and with a foray into radish research. Pulling out a monstrously huge one both to give its neighbors half a chance and to see what was happening: it showed signs of insect invasion as well having odd and giant growth. Divvying the insides up for tasting revealed some radishy heat but not bad flavor.

We decided to let the radishes be for now rather than harvest. A few rain drops fell as we were leaving, but we watered the new grass leading from the street to our water spigot as well as in the garden.

Lettuce, Round 2

lettuce 
We've harvested all of the lettuce that we planted originally from seedlings.
 
The lettuce bed now contains seedlings we grew from seed, including those we transplanted from elsewhere in the bed so they would have enough room to really leaf out.
 
We also planted another set of seeds so we will be able to have 3 plantings of lettuce before it gets too hot, hopefully.

A Very Productive Day

 Yesterday there was so much to do in the garden that we split into teams to address different issues.  The peas are getting tall enough that we need to start worrying about a pea trellis.  A park neighbor donated the use of bamboo that is growing in his yard, and a pea trellis was built out of the bamboo stalks.  Some sort of string will be run between the stalks that the peas will climb.

Meanwhile, there were vegetables to harvest!  We planted 2 kinds of radishes, and many of the early radishes were able to be picked.  These radishes are growing in the bed that will be taken over by squash.  By the time the squash is big enough to impact the radishes, the radish season will be over.  More radish seeds were planted in this same bed to provide another crop.

Our first lettuce was planted from seedlings, and many of these seedlings were ready to be picked.  These lettuce heads are amazingly beautiful- green, red, and romaine lettuce.

After we picked the largest lettuces, we transplanted some of the lettuce seedlings we had planted from seed.  This is a problematic procedure, as the sun was brightly shining and there was a good chance the seedlings would not survive the stress of being transplanted.  We decided to give it a try, however, as we would just have thinned the transplants.  We came up with a creative way to try to give them some shade by using the leaves from the bamboo stalks that were being used for the pea trellis.

We planted some more lettuce seeds to grow another crop.  The remaining seeds (beans, cucumber, and squash) that needed warmer weather to germinate were planted.  It seemed like we had gotten a bit lax in our watering and it had an impact on the swiss chard and the beets in particular, so everything got a good soaking.  This got a bit overenthusiastic at times, with the hills of the potato patch being watered rather than the valleys where the seed potatoes are actually planted, and the box containing the seeds getting a drenching.  The seeds were able to be rescued, fortunately.

We nibbled on some of our pickings-

Arugula thinnings:

and radishes:

Our chief gardener called a meeting to discuss the looming problem of deciding which of the tomato plants we have bought or have been donated to us we should plant.  We can't plant them all, and each type of tomato seems to have a constituency.  We reached a compromise, with about half the tomatoes being cherry, grape or smaller than the usual, and the other half being of normal tomato size, with an emphasis on lots of different kinds of tomatoes.

Finally, the professor subjected us to one of his little Veggie School lectures -- this time on the history of radishes -- and "gently" reminded us about keeping apace with our community commitments homework on this project, which I'm sure we will all take to heart.

All in all, a very good day.

How I learned to love lettuce

A head of lettuceI grew up thinking I hated lettuce. Every night my sister and I argued over who had to make the salad- tomatoes that tasted like cardboard, cucumbers (which I still don't particularly like), and iceberg lettuce. I ate it, but I never particularly enjoyed it. Once I got out on my own, I discovered that there was lettuce that was not iceberg, which made salad much more interesting. I still was not a big fan, however. It took a vacation to Hawaii to turn me around. We were visiting friends of ours who lived near Honolulu, and we went to the farmers' market that is right behind Diamond Head. Our friend bought a big bag of arugula, and we went home and made a salad. Just arugula and some oil and vinegar. Wow- I had never tasted anything like it. It turns out that the world of lettuce and greens beyond iceberg is large and varied, and I can now happily eat salad just for the greens, without adding much of anything to cover up the boring lettuce base. I'm still partial to arugula, but there is all kinds of lettuce that is mighty tasty .

 

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