Cut-and-Come-Again Lettuce Samplercomments (11) November 11th, 2009
Keep the soil rich
Lettuce likes a fairly rich, sandy loam. I till the beds and let them settle for a week before applying about an inch of well-rotted manure or compost, which I work into the near-surface zone with the stirrup hoe. After harvesting leaves, I revive the plants with a weak fish or seaweed emulsion, or manure tea. I have a siphon gadget on my drip irrigation system that allows me to feed emulsion or filtered manure tea down the lines. Most drip systems can be fitted with something similar.
|More info on growing all kinds of lettuce...|
Lettuce will grow, if not thrive, in less than ideal soil, but one thing it must have is water, about an inch per week. Drip irrigation puts water only where a plant needs it. Overhead watering wastes a lot of water, and at the wrong time, such as late in the day or in hot, muggy weather, encourages fungal diseases.
Slugs love lettuce as much as I do, but luckily they seem to prefer beer. A few saucers of stale beer help them drown their sorrows and themselves. I tried sugar water once, which worked, but my bees liked it even more than the slugs did.
Cutworms can be a hassle, but usually they won’t do too much damage to a fairly dense band of plants. Untilled soil can harbor cutworms, so I till my beds in spring while the weather is still cold enough to kill overwintered cutworm pupae and eggs. If cutworms become a real problem, I add parasitic nematodes to the soil about a week before planting.
How to grow lettuce
300 Park Ave.
Warminster, PA 18991
The Cook’s Garden
In the home garden, sowing every week will ensure a constant and generous supply of lettuce. Each sowing yields three or four cuttings before the plants are exhausted. As a rough guide to quantity, sowing about 3 feet of row every week will keep one omnivorous adult well supplied with salad from spring to fall; a vegetarian might consume twice as much.
Lettuces prefer cool temperatures, but by sowing every week, choosing heat-tolerant varieties, and using shade-cloth tunnels, I can produce lettuce right through my Zone 7 summers. It is easy to keep the supply going right into winter by growing winter varieties in cold frames or tunnels of row-cover fabric. The same tunnels can be used, covered instead with 50 percent shade cloth, to protect heat-sensitive lettuce from summer sun.
And just because it’s hot doesn’t mean I stop sowing lettuce. When temperatures hit the 80s, lettuce seed will not germinate, so I start seeds in flats in a cool room indoors and set the plants in the garden when they have two sets of true leaves.
From early spring until the start of winter, I cut lettuces and keep several salad bowls generously supplied. But lettuce is good for more than just salads. Try it in a creamy soup or wrapped around vinegared sushi rice for a tempting appetizer.
|Sauteed Shrimp Salad with Curry||Cream of Lettuce Soup||Vinegared Rice and Lettuce Rolls|
by Peter Garnham
from issue #19
posted in: Lettuce