As more of us grow our own food, even on a small scale, there is much to learn about the life cycle of various plants in the vegetable garden. Most lettuce varieties are cool season crops. When the hot weather comes, they send up tall stalks that will flower and set seed. You’ll notice that the leaves begin to taste bitter around the same time the stalks elongate. This is called bolting. Seed savers participating in a Seed Lending Library might like to keep a few plants to collect seed, dry it, and return it to the “vault.”
But for me, a big salad eater, an elongating stalk is my signal to pull out the aging lettuce and plant a new crop. I do this in my deck containers three to four times during the growing season and start over with new young seedlings. We switch to growing heat and bolt resistant lettuce varieties at the summer solstice. Right now we have the varieties Magenta, Freckles, Nevada and Merlox Red Oak Leaf available. Let Priscilla know if you would like to purchase a 6 pack or two for your garden. We will arrange delivery as we make our rounds.
We will also have fall lettuce varieties available in August.
Here are some tips for growing lettuce in hot weather:
1. Water daily – lettuce loves moist soil.
2. Protect newly planted seeds or seedlings with row covers during the hottest weather.
3. Harvest young leaves every few days, as new ones grow on quickly to replace them.
4. It’s OK to pull out your aging lettuce plants and start over with fresh ones.