Gardening Friday-Lettuce in July?

Yes!

In gardening, you learn by trial and error and luck.

Several years back when I didn’t know any better, I plunked my tomatoes in the ground midday. That’s a big no-no.

But I learned from my error and the next time I planted I grabbed a light/white sheet and placed it over the cages and my starts only experienced a little bit of wilting (compared to previous attempts without any cover).

So I got wise and bought some expensive dark green shade cloth and a roll of cheap burlap to use as cover when I transplant.

Burlap has several uses in the garden, providing cooling shade being the most obvious to me. However, it doesn’t last very long and it lets in more heat and light than *I* would prefer. But it does work and not all burlap is created equal. The tighter the weave, the more shade you’ll get.

That few yards of green shade cloth? Though it cost my 30 bucks, it’s still going 4? years later. I use it every time I transplant during morning. I’ll even lay it over some of the pepper plants when it gets into the high 90s and up (burlap or a light sheet works too).

But here’s where I got really lucky. Summer is a perfect time for salads. Unfortunately, lettuce doesn’t like 80+ degree temps– that’s when they get biter and bolt. Last year I took some of that over priced shade cloth plopped it over my wilting lettuce in late spring. And hey, it helped out. I can’t tell you how it all worked out because I went on vacation in mid July. These pictures were taken on July 7th.



This year, because of excessive amounts of moisture, I didn’t get  lettuce seeds into my “salad bowl” (where I grow the various lettuces) until Memorial day(ish) . That means I planted in late May! I figured I didn’t have much to lose. The seeds took forever to germinate but eventually they sprouted and grew. Sssslllooooooowly. Then about a week ago, I plunked that shade cloth down over the lettuces and they have taken off. I just pulled some red and green leaf lettuces today to see if they’re bitter and they taste great. Especially the red leaf.

It’s July 1st in Salt Lake!

I should tell you that my salad bowl is shaded until 9:30-10 am but receives full, blistering sun until sunset. The few hours of cool morning shade might be helping the cause. Ican’t tell you what percentage of shade the cloth is, but I can tell you it’s dark green and I bought it from teh SprawlMarts (because it’s within bike riding distance).

I did a search to see what kind of success others have had doing this and turns out it works well.

Here are several reliable links:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Grow-It/Growing-Lettuce-Under-Shade-Cloth.aspx

http://www.statesman.com/life/content/life/stories/gardening/05/02/0502renee.html

http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/gardening/entries/gardening_101_lettuce/

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8 responses to “Gardening Friday-Lettuce in July?

  1. Alliegator July 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I don’t have luck with lettuce. Maybe I’ll have to get some shade cloth and try again…. One winter I grew lettuce inside, which was great, but outdoors it always bolts too fast.

    I remember helping my aunt garden in washington state one summer I lived with her, and her lettuce was so nice- we’d go cut some for dinner, and it kept growing back. I need to try and do that here.

  2. Winterbuzz July 3, 2011 at 10:14 am

    I have lettuce coming out of my ears. You’re all welcome to it! I’ve been meaning to ask and I realize in advance this is a really screwy question- but I need to work it out in my own mind: I’m sort of a germaphobe and when I pick this delicious lettuce in my garden and see all those little green bugs all over it, I completely lose my appetite and it makes it difficult for me to eat it. I realize that store-bought lettuce is a lot ‘dirtier’ but I’m wondering if you have any tricks/tips for washing you lettuce? See, I told you it was a weird question. I really love salad, but I get pretty grossed out by these bugs and I know I sound ridiculous- I need to have some Earth therapy or something. Other plants and bugs don’t bother me, but for some reason- lettuce and bugs just grosses me out. Anyone else?

  3. missy. July 5, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Winterbuzz- I totally relate. My brother gave me a cooler full of lettuce from his garden yesterday. He washed it, but when I went to put it on my lunch plate today I found a clear little bug of some sort clinging to one of the leaves, so of course I was grossed out. I ended up washing each leaf individually, checking for hitchhikers. But then, literally right after lunch, I read your comment, and then googled and came upon this article:
    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/march/recalls-and-safety-alerts/bagged-salad/index.htm
    And I remembered all that way nastier stuff –like poop and salmonella– on the bagged salad mixes than on anything coming out of our organic gardens. I mean, I would rather accidentally eat a tiny bug than accidentally eat poop and ammonia. I think. So next time I’m grossed out about a bug on my lettuce, I think I’ll just remind myself what the alternative is 🙂

  4. mfranti July 5, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    am I totally off base here in thinking that lettuce doesn’t grow in the summer?

  5. missy. July 5, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I am not an expert– my brother’s garden is still packed with lettuce, kale, arugula and other greens, but the arugula has started to bolt and he’s warning that we need to eat the greens as soon as we can before they follow suit.

  6. mfranti July 5, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    I was thinking that the long, cold and wet spring prolonged the lettuce and cole crops. My broc is not happy and will prly bolt in a week.

    I can usually get kale all season long.

  7. margie July 7, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Oh, mfranti, I think you are a genius. I think the shade cloth is just what my peppers need. I have some left from another project. Shade cloth can reduce the temp by 15 degrees. We used it on a pergola/potting shed, and it is amazing how much of a difference it can make. I have had scorched peppers the last few years. Can’t wait to try this.

  8. Pingback: What Do You Eat | Suburbhomestead's Blog

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