Hot Season Lettuce

May 29, 2009 at 10:56 am 3 comments

R asked me the other day whether it was too late to plant lettuce. The short answer is yes, it will bolt in the heat. Bolted lettuce is terrible. The long answer is, you can get around that. Here’s some tricks:

1. Give it lots of water. Lettuce is mostly comprised of water, so water frequently to keep it in shape. By frequently I mean daily, at least.

2. Give it nitrogen. Lettuce likes fertilizer. You can apply a balanced composted manure, or for a bigger nitrogen kick, apply fish meal or blood meal. Interplanting lettuce with soybeans is good too, so you can enjoy edamame and nitrogen fixing from a plant that will be roughly the same height. Another surprising nitrogen source is hair. Finely chopping up the (un-dyed/permed) hair from your comb and pets and mixing it into the soil is a good way of adding nitrogen. On another note, your soil loves toenails, but the wonders of human soil additives are best saved for another post.

3. Eat your sprouts. Make sure you are thinning your lettuce crop as it grows, so that the plants have room to grow. Lettuce can’t bolt before it’s mature, so eat salad every day. With leaf lettuce, you can also harvest single leaves from the plant, so that it continues to produce new leaves without having a chance to reach its bolting stage. This reminds me of another tip:

4. Plant leaf lettuces, not head lettuces. Head lettuces are harder to grow, even in the appropriate season. Plus, there are more fun varieties. Check the seed packets for varieties that say they’re resistant to heat or bolting.

4. Shade it. Keep it out of full sun, because lettuce isn’t a fan of summer weather. If you’ve ever moved a plant into natural sunlight without adjusting it first, you’ve probably seen that plants can get a sunburn (whitening of the leaves). Lettuce is the Irishman of the veggie patch: it sunburns easily, and then it’s cranky. Either plant it in part shade, install a shade cloth, or plant tall things to shade it.

5. Use containers. A soil-less potting mix retains water better than earth, so container planting can be a good solution if you’re more neglectful. Just remember to plant it in clay, not plastic, so that the roots stay cool.

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Entry filed under: Food, Garden, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Sometimes you don’t know whether to laugh or cry… Canada Hates the Blind

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. nik  |  May 29, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    As an Irishman who gets cranky when he gets sunburned I take offense at that. 😛

    Reply
  • 2. Rosalynn  |  June 2, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    Thanks, Melissa! I hope to get my lettuce in by the weekend (which is rapidly filling up with other things for me to do, urg) and I will keep you posted.

    Reply
  • 3. Kochsgarden.com  |  August 3, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    I was surfing around looking for info about summer lettuce, and you popped up. Thank for the info. Summer lettuce is fun to grow.

    Reply

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