Lettuce Grow All Summer Long

comments (5) August 3rd, 2011

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WesternGardener Jodi Torpey, contributor
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Kathy Corbett of Denver created this ingenious shade to keep her lettuce bed cool during hot weather.
Kathy Corbett’s plastic-and-sheet lettuce shade can be clipped in an up position for watering and harvesting fresh lettuce all summer long.
Kathy Corbett of Denver created this ingenious shade to keep her lettuce bed cool during hot weather.Click To Enlarge

Kathy Corbett of Denver created this ingenious shade to keep her lettuce bed cool during hot weather.

Photo: Kathleen Corbett

While watching her lettuce droop during a streak of hot Denver weather, it occurred to Kathy Corbett that shading the raised beds might solve the wilting problem.

“I decided if I preferred sitting in the shade on hot days, the lettuce would, too!” So she constructed an inexpensive shade to keep the sun’s rays off the lettuce. Helping her lettuce keep its cool means Kathy can harvest nice batches of salad greens even on a scorching-hot August day.

“The shade protects the lettuce from the sun, and it tends to bolt much more slowly and weaken in the heat much less than it would otherwise,” Kathy says.

The shade is made from a piece of green plastic barrier fence and an old sheet. The plastic fencing provides stability and the sheet provides protection from the sun.

“An old sheet works fine and the lower the thread count the better, because the fabric is more permeable and lets rainwater through,” she says. “The fabric will let the water through, but protect the lettuce from hard rain or hail.”

Kathy uses plastic, spring-type clips to secure the plastic-and-sheet shade onto the garden fence so it can be flipped up for easy access to the lettuce. She removes and rolls up the shade at night (to prevent damage from high winds)and then clips it on again in the morning.

Here are Kathy’s suggestions for constructing a lettuce shade of your own:

  1. Cut a panel of plastic barrier fencing slightly larger than the lettuce bed, but small enough to roll up and remove.
  2. Cut a panel from a sheet or other white fabric that’s a little smaller than the plastic panel.
  3. Tack the fabric on at the corners of the plastic fencing and in several spots along the fence edges with a needle and strong thread.
  4. Use spring-type clips to secure the shade to a fence or other nearby structure. If the lettuce is growing along a wooden fence, install hooks to secure the shade.
  5. Hang the panel with the fabric side closest to the lettuce; make sure the shade sits several inches above the bed.
  6. Support the front of the shade with stakes.
  7. Use clothespins to hold the shade in place on the fence when it’s flipped into the up position.

Kathy says she made the shade with materials she had on hand and cut it to fit the garden’s narrow beds. Similar shades can be constructed using other materials and cut into special shapes and sizes.

“Your lettuce bed may be different,” Kathy says. “Just use your imagination!”

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posted in: Lettuce, raised bed, garden protection

Comments (5)

OrlandoWilliam writes: Great for health
Posted: 12:35 am on February 13th
WesternGardener writes: Thanks for your comments--I'd love to hear how this works in hotter climates. If you do give it a try, please let us know if it helps some of your plants beat the heat.

It would also be fun to see the shades you construct, so please post your images here.

Posted: 1:51 pm on August 7th
Dwiggit writes: Great tip! This might work in West Texas during milder summers. It has been so hot here that even my freshly irrigated Okra wilts. We generally have to wait until the weather moderates a bit to plant lettuce. It's a marathon just to keep all the beds watered. Check out my blog: West Texas Gardener http://westexasgardener.com
Posted: 9:50 pm on August 4th
yourownvictorygarden writes: This is a great idea and application. I'll be covering my lettuce in a similar way when I plant it later this month. I would question however, how well this would work in hotter climates. Denver has nowhere near the heat factor that we do in North Texas. We are "baking" down here! I've recently lost a couple of native perennials... ones that can usually handle the Texas heat.
Posted: 1:54 pm on August 4th
Veeta writes: I like how attractive this is. I place a trellis over my lettuce and grow peas in late spring and cucumber in summer to shade my lettuce. In Virginia, I still miss out on lettuce in mid Summer, but this certainly helps extend the narvest.
Posted: 12:15 pm on August 4th
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