"growing fall lettuce" --- poison free gardening Victoria BC
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poison free gardening, Victoria BC, growing fall lettuce


 

Growing Fall Lettuce

a gourmet lettuce arugula

From now and until the end of August - even until the middle of October for some varieties - we can sow the fall and winter lettuces directly into outdoor beds. Besides providing a continuing, and with a bit of planning, year-round supply of fresh and supremely healthy lettuce - because of the so vitally important 72+ trace elements in it - it is also a very nice way of using the empty spaces in our vegetable beds as their crops are harvested. All lettuces are cool weather crop and required a fair bit of moisture. This makes them ideal crops for our spring, mild summers and fall.

Sow your "succession crops" of lettuce every two weeks in short rows - just enough for a two week supply for your family. Since lettuce is a cool season crop, many varieties will germinate well at 4 degrees C. (40 F.), but will fail to germinate when soils are very warm - over 25 degrees C. (80 F.) - which can be a bit of a problem for sowing in August and September. To avoid this problem soak the seeds for 12 to 16 hours in cool water and then let the seed dry in the air on a sheet of newspaper or paper towel for 2 hours before seeding.

To reduce the need for weeding the newly seeded rows, lay down wide strips of newspaper, 4 to 6 pages thick, between the seeded rows, leaving only a 3 centimeter (1") wide 'open' strip over the seeded space. The newspaper will slowly decay and add its organic content to the soil. This 'newspaper mulch' also conserves moisture in the soil, which is very, very nice for moisture-loving lettuce.

Lack of sufficient moisture is also the most common cause of bitterness in lettuce leaves.

Slugs like lettuce a lot. To keep them from munching your lettuces, lay down a seaweed mulch on your lettuce bed as soon as it becomes feasible. With a seaweed mulch, slugs won't go anywhere near your lettuce.

Arctic King is a butterhead lettuce which can survive our winters with a bit of cover - clear plastic "cloches" - and will mature in February and March, when sown in September to October. Seed every two weeks for a continuous supply of tender, crisps and juicy fresh lettuce.

Contenuity is a big butterhead lettuce with very pretty bronze-red outer leaves and a pale green tightly folded heart, and excellent flavour. Sow through late August and well into September.

Little Leprechaun is a striking red, sweet and nicely crunchy romaine lettuce. Sow until late August, often survives through our winters.

Winter Density is a deep green butterhead-romaine cross with sweet and crisp leaves and very nice flavour. Can be sown as late as October, is frost tolerant, and when it survives the winter will mature and form loose heads in March.

Arugula is a wild lettuce from Italy which matures in only 35 days. It has tender smooth leaves with a robust, peppery flavor. Great for a zesty accent in salad. Grow for a spring or fall crop. Can be planted early in spring, repeated every two weeks throughout the summer, until mid September. Needs a bit of protection from heat in summer with a shade cloth, or sow in partial shade, as behind the tomato shrubs. Needs fertile soil and ample water. It's at its best when picked just before the meal.

There are so many lettuce varieties, including bolt resistant lettuce which tolerate summer heat well, that there is no reason which keeps us from having an almost year-round supply of garden fresh and supremely healthy lettuce.



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