Lettuce in the Spring Garden

comments (3) March 25th, 2010

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ChrisMcLaughlin Chris McLaughlin, contributor
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Yup ~ These lettuces are taking going to walk out of their containers if I dont plant them soon.Click To Enlarge

Yup ~ These lettuces are taking going to walk out of their containers if I don't plant them soon.

Photo: Chris McLaughlin

Spring time is lettuce time, and I think it's about time to get mine into the garden. I had to pull these dudes out from under the indoor lights and start acclimating them to the outdoors last week. Growing a variety of lettuces not only adds texture, color, and interest to your garden, but it's the best way to get all kinds of great flavor on your salad plate. I have a light green, rather floppy-looking lettuce called 'May Queen' and although their buttery leaves look as if they're wilting, it's just their growing habit.

I also have an upright variety called 'Petit Rouge' (a romaine type) which are burgundy-tinged. There's one variety that's taking it's sweet time growing called 'Mervielle des Quatre' ('Marvel of Four Seasons') which grow in a kind of flat pattern. They're all doing great this spring, but those 4" containers are only going to go so far - they need to get into the garden bed. We've had gorgeous weather for days around here, but today it's perfectly drizzly.

What's considered a beautiful, sunny, and warm day to us can be hard on newly transplanted, cool-weather lovers like lettuce. So today's weather is a good one for getting these lettuces into the ground. When it comes to lettuce, I start my first crop as early as I can indoors and slowly move them outside; it makes feel like I have a jump on the season. After a couple of weeks, I'll plant more lettuce seed directly into the beds and forego starting them indoors from here on out. By succession planting, I'll have steady lettuce production for a while.

At some point, we get some seriously hot weather and I'll have some heat-resistant lettuces going. But even with those varieties, they aren't at their best here in the SF Bay Area. I'm sure they'd do wonderfully all year closer to bay, but I'm about 45 minutes inland and the microclimate is quite different from those zones along the coast.

As the cool weather approaches again in the fall, I'll direct seed my lettuce once again so that I'll be harvesting for the winter. This time, I'll plant them directly into my cold frame. I can usually grow lettuce all winter long (or very close to it) by using the cold frame. This year, I've planted lettuces in hanging baskets outside the front door - that should keep things interesting.

posted in: Lettuce, succession planting, starting lettuce, lettuce varieties

Comments (3)

ChrisMcLaughlin writes: Hi Cathy ~ I'm afraid several Cathys popped up over there and they have their info locked. You'll have to friend me first!
Posted: 7:09 pm on March 26th
ChrisMcLaughlin writes: Hi Cathy,

Yes, I do wait until my seedlings are a bit tall before I thin them - and then I do it with scissors and never pull because by that time the roots are quite intertwined and I don't want to disturb the little dude that I'm leaving.

I'm really going to watch the weather and if a frost s on the horizon, I'll cover the bed I planted them in with a floating row cover like your cloches. I'm in northern California so out last frost date is April 15th. I'm jumping the gun a little, so I'll keep an eye out...but these guys were just getting too big.

I'll friend you over at FB.

Posted: 7:06 pm on March 26th
gardenchef writes: Love love love the look of your lettuce. I have some that believe it or not (in zone 6, boston), came up outdoors a few weeks ago from last year. Mustn't have germinated originally. We are expecting 20 degree temps tonite and tomorrow nite so I have them lettuce covered with gallon milk bottles as cloches.

As for my indoor germination of lettuce, it looks NOTHING like yours. I did have a delay (basically had to ignore it for a few weeks) which didn't help. But I am moving everything upstairs tonight, the basement is too cold and I got 250wt heat bulbs instead of regular lgiths bulbs I was using at 120wt. I will water and watch carefully due to heat.

Could you recommend what I should do regarding thinning? I planted a large tray (normally 75 pods) with soiless mix and 4 long lines of lettuce seed. I must post photos. I'm assunmng I should wait til they grow more before thining. Suggestion?

Please friend me on facebook (Cathy Collins) to discuss gardening, there are many great gardening groups on there as well. I also have a blog re: gardening and 'cooking from scratch' that needs updating but give it a peek: http://www.footbridgecove.blogspot.com/

Look forward to hearing from you
gardenchef aka CATHY COLLINS
Posted: 3:53 pm on March 26th
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