Summer Garden: Lettuce
We had a brief spring that was cold, rainy and riddled with tornado warnings that guaranteed strong winds. This pretty much killed my first attempt at growing beans, but thankfully the lettuces came up beautifully and to my shock are still doing well despite our hot July days.
This year my trick to growing great lettuce was to carefully place each little tiny seed two inches apart from each other. This felt slightly ridiculous and fastidious (even for me) but in years past, I sort of just dumped the packet of seeds in a long trench, spread them out a little, and let them grow. This resulted in very small lettuces that had no flavor and were slightly pale. This ridiculous and fastidious new method of hand placing those tiny seeds worked beautifully – the lettuces are huge and have a nice dark color to them. It was well worth the extra thirty minutes in the rain to plant this way.
Because lettuces like the cooler weather, it’s sort of shocking some are sticking around in the July high-80s and very sunny weather. But, I’m experimenting with different kinds of lettuces and when they grow well. In late April I planted a lot of arugula, which did great in the cooler, rainy month of May and tasted fantastic. But once the temperatures started to rise, they tasted bitter and lacked the classic crunchiness of arugula, so I pulled it out, and focused on mixed lettuce and bibb lettuce, which are the ones still doing well in this hot heat. I think their time will expire in the next two weeks, right in time for basil and tomato to substitute. I think in September, when the temperatures start to cool down, I’ll plant another section of mixed and bibb letuce, then when it gets a bit cooler than that, plant a section of arugula. We’ll see how it does.