Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lettuce Dream

I’m hoping for more lettuce this year, both earlier and later, and I’ve taken steps to make my dream come true. For lettuce further into the summer, I’ve ordered seeds of an old lettuce called SloBolt, that is supposed to be, as if we couldn’t guess from its name, slow to bolt in warm weather. It is also supposed to not get bitter even when it does finally bolt. I’ve been gardening long enough to not take the claim as 100% gospel truth, but I have hopes of extending my lettuce season a bit further into warm weather.

I’ve learned to watch the weather pretty closely, and, in the past, when the forecast has called for a few days in a row of temperatures in the low to mid eighties, I would go out and cut all the remaining lettuces and cram them into the fridge. We would then eat salad for just about every meal until it was gone.

Leaving most lettuces out in the heat causes them to get bitter and to bolt, which is why I cram the fridge full of lettuce at some point every May, but last year’s trial of Bronze Arrow, a red oak-leaf lettuce, let me get one more week of non-bitter lettuce from the yard. This year, I expect to still have a bit of a binge-week when the weather gets consistently warm, but I will leave the SloBolt out in the garden longer, and see how it does.

For getting more lettuce in cool weather, we (my husband, actually) are building a little cold-frame, to be covered with clear plastic, out of PVC. I’ve seen these on other people’s websites and blogs, and they seem to work as season extenders, so I am going to give it a try. We bought enough PVC for a small frame, about 3x6x2 (WxLxH) feet in dimension.

This means that I will get to start gardening sooner than usual, and that we may (if it actually works in my yard) get to eat lettuce about a month sooner than usual. Of course, we spent $31 on supplies, which is more than we would pay for a month’s worth of lettuce, but the frame should be usable for many seasons, even extending our harvest into --and possibly through-- winter.

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