Lettuce in FL summer

JenPeteFLMarch 8, 2011

I currently have no yard and can only container garden in partial shade (on my balcony). I'd like to plant some lettuce (assuming from seed) but have always heard that you can't grow lettuce in Florida's summer heat. I'm in Central FL.

Any suggestions?

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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Hi Jen, you're right, it's a cold season crop and we're moving quickly into the warm season now. You in St. Pete?

Tom

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 7:42PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Grow lights in a refrigerator would work (that was a joke). You could probably grow micro greens if you started them or grew them inside where it is cooler.....I have 3 beds of lettuce now and they wilt during the middle of the day. When the weather turns hot it would be tough. I try to grow the lettuce where it will get a lot of shade, as a rule I plant it on the east side of a stand of peas for the shade so your shady spot will work but the shade only delays the inevitable. It isn't just that the lettuce won't grow in the heat it won't germinate either.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 7:49PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

BR, you've got to share more with us, for me your insight and instincts are great for folks like me that are so used to things here that I can't think outside the box....

Tom

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 8:12PM
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JenPeteFL

I'm in Orlando.

Thanks for the info and advice. I've thought about growing them indoors but didn't know if that would really work. The fridge idea... hmm...

Is there some other salad green, maybe spinach or something?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 9:47PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Malabar spinach and amaranth can handle our heat, but I'm not real wild about either.

Tom

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 6:25AM
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rednofl(9b Goldenrod Fl hz 10)

Young Sweet potato Leaves are a good substitute Puerto Rico bush type seems to be the best pick them while they are still light green.
Chaya is also pretty good lettuce substitute. Make sure you don't get the fuzzy type.
Both will thrive in our summer heat.
Malabar spinach is too strong for my taste but my wife likes it.

Robert

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 6:46AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

I happen to like Bidens Alba which is a native "weed". Some would know it as Shepherd's needles or Beggarstick. The stems, leaves, beds and flowers are all edible, I feed a lot of it to my rabbits. My wife who is a city girl is not crazy about it though I bet if it came packaged from a gourmet shop for $7 a pound she would like it :) Even when the plant is mature the new growth is quite good. This time of year as the plant just starts it's growth it is at it's best.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 7:40AM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

I recall reading in OG magazine that 1 organic gardener in South FL grew lettuce year-round, but in the Summer, harvested when plants were very small & gave them shade.

That said, I grew chicories last year that made it right through the Summer & are still growing now. Perennial arugula also withstands the heat & humidity here.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 9:30AM
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gardengimp(9B Seminole Cnty FL)

Carol - what kind of chicories?

Jen, this will be my first summer (second season) growing greens. What I have learned for summer is to be bold, adventuresome and broaden your taste buds. My loosely formed plan, is to grow outside what I can during the summer; based roughly on ideas jotted down here : heat loving augmented with homegrown sprouts and with baby greens that I hope to germinate and raise under light. Here is a link for a salad table and instructions for what and how to grow.

You could grow sweet potato vines in upside down or from the side growing containers; below is a link for how to make your own - and stylish to boot. My MIL is growing culantro in a coconut coir lined basket in the keys. And I am raising up an everglades tomato and mexican sour gherkin to be planted in baskets for her to take home with her in April.

All in all, I think that our summer heat is counter to good typical salads; but you could start with some of the the heat loving stuff that might not taste so good to gain experience and be really ready to go come fall.

Oh, I almost forgot - I learned to love Florida Cranberry/Roselle baby leaves and Lettuce Basil in salads. Hopefully I can get my Florida Cranberry growing again - I forgot to take cuttings ....

~dianne

Here is a link that might be useful: DIY: Upside down container

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 10:51AM
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whgille(FL 9b)

JenPete

I grow lettuce the best in the cooler months, even if they were in the shade at the end the humidity is too much for the leaves.

I still have lettuce growing strong, when cooler I grow the tender leaves like a mesclun blend, here it is today

I also have some Italian blend of frisee, chicory and other ones, the leaves are thicker and can take more the heat as long as it is kept moist. If I see any sign of bolting they will be pick up immediately, today in the garden

And this blend were planted the last it has some hardy lettuce like nevada that takes the heat, leaves are thicker but still tender and good, I did not plant too much because it will get warm very soon.

I will be doing chopped salads with cucumbers, squash and tomatoes when summer hits. Bean salads are very good!

Silvia

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 4:36PM
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JenPeteFL

Thanks everyone for the info!

Tom, I LOVE spinach. Never had those types, but I'm willing to try! I'd have to order seeds. Do you think it's too late to order, seed, plant and grow?

Robert, Young sweet potato leaves... I would have never thought to eat those. I probably wouldn't have considered trying to grow them either, but Diane's idea of growing them upside down sounds fun. I actually have one of those things somewhere in the garage. Thanks Diane!

BR, maybe you SHOULD try to package and sell. You never know...

Carol, thanks for the encouragement.

And, Silvia... I'm just green with envy! I can't wait till cooler weather to start a 'real' lettuce garden. I hope it looks half as healthy and yummy as yours.

You guys are awesome!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 5:35PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Tom, I LOVE spinach. Never had those types, but I'm willing to try! I'd have to order seeds. Do you think it's too late to order, seed, plant and grow?

No, both do well through the summer, you can start them both in April or May and do well.

Tom

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 7:57PM
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JenPeteFL

Thanks Tom. I'll give it a try.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 10:06PM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

My chicories were in a mesclun mix from Pinetree Garden Seeds.

P.S. The perennial arugula is on the same page.

Here is a link that might be useful: Misticanza Mesclun

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 10:28AM
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dirtygardener73(9a)

Black Seeded Simpson did very well for me in containers under the oak trees last summer. It's more heat tolerant than most leaf lettuce.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 7:53PM
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dlsm(Z9b Titusville Fl)

Hi everyone, I was in Lowes today and they had all their Burpee package seeds for half price. Purchased several different lettuce varieties. Put them in my freezer for this next winter planting.

Luther

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 10:04PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Black Seeded Simpson did very well for me in containers under the oak trees last summer. It's more heat tolerant than most leaf lettuce.

Really? What months? Trying not to get excited here....

Tom

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 6:33AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Dirtygardener,

Interesting.....I winder just how much sun lettuce needs to grow?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 7:41AM
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gardengimp(9B Seminole Cnty FL)

just how much sun lettuce needs to grow?

Apparently, not a whole lot. I've got some experiments going on the south side of our property, which happens to be NO full sun. Some dappled sun throughout the day. Everything I have growing over there is doing fine, growing, just slower than the stuff in full sun. I'll take some photos later and post. Oh, and the black seeded simpson lettuce patch is going gang busters - in shade.

~dianne

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 11:25AM
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sun_worshiper(FL 9b)

I've had good luck with black seeded simpson too. Didn't make it all the way through summer, but didn't get bitter as fast as the others. I also had good luck with mustard mizuna. It seems to be pretty nematode resistant and tolerated the heat quite well. Mine lasted through about July last year. I am going to try a later planting of it this year since it showed promise of making it further into the heat.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 12:14PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Well that satisfies my "winder" lol. I will have to try it in the summer and see. I have 3 lettuce patches currently and do miss them when the heat sets in. Is there any trouble getting the seed to germinate in the heat?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 12:15PM
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deannac(9b/S26/H10/Oviedo)

I'm just harvesting my lettuces...this year, I've grown (with excellent results) black seeded simpson lettuce and red oak leaf lettuce. None of it has bolted.

I have them in raised beds, but I think I've been successful thus far because I planted it in the south bed, which retains more water and gets less full sun in the winter. I straight seeded it in early Dec, and I have HUGE heads right now.

I live in Oviedo, so we're close.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 2:13PM
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ibarbidahl(9 (tampa-ish))

I harvested my Black seeded simpson in May last year. Not due to bolting, but because I needed it. LOL. I'm starting the last of my lettuces beds soon and you can bet that is my preference. I also came across Black seeded simpson elite somewhere....

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 2:49PM
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JenPeteFL

Thanks EVERYONE for all the info. I can't wait to go find some Black Seeded Simpson and give it a try!

Diane, thanks for the info, it's encouraging--currently I only have shade with spots of sun breaking through. Hopefully I'll have as much success as you have!

Luther, big thanks, hope to go buy some cheap seeds!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 4:31PM
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spammenot_dot_gmail_com

We are currently seeking a lettuce variety to plant now (March) for the summer months.. we live in Zone 9. Our Romaine and other lettuces are going to seed now.

I think we are going to order the Summer Glory Blend from Park Seeds, has anyone else had luck with this?

I am a little hesitant to substitute the romaine with Argula, not sure how well that would taste. Any input would be great!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 2:59PM
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JenPeteFL

I'm looking for Black Seeded Simpson as suggested above. Though must admit, I was at Home Depot last week and bought 4 lettuce plants, just said "salad", planted it in containers on my balcony, part sun/more shade, and it's already grown. Hope it survives, figured it was worth the try for under $2 for all 4.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 9:58PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

I personally love arugula in a salad.....but an entire salad of arugula would be way too much. Around my bamboo propagation corral is very rich soil in almost 100% shade and watered by timer many times a day briefly so I will try the lettuce there but have low expectations.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 9:10AM
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leesharpe

JenPete. Why don,t you try the Jericho lettuce bred to grow in the Israel desert. I,m trying that this year along with malabar and New Zealand spinach. Also try Misome and Mibuna and flowering Bok Choi, they all do well in the summer. They are Asian all season crops and are great for greens. I get a lot from Johnnys seeds or the Kitazawa Seed co. There are hundreds, sometimes thousands of seeds per pack and I,ve had great luck with them. Hope this helps. I live in Sarasota....Dave

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 6:33AM
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tomatonut(9a FL)

Question: If you do plant lettuce now and in the shade can you at least expect a reliable source of micro greens? It seems like if they germinate you could pick them early enough before they go bitter or bolt or am I entirely wrong on this?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 3:55PM
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dirtygardener73(9a)

Sorry it took so long to get back to this. I replanted my BSS every two weeks until May, and I had some until late July, then it stopped growing. It bolted in early August. I always haircut my lettuce when it's pretty small, so it grows a long time.

This was growing in deep shade under an oak tree, in pots, so it stayed a lot cooler. Plus, we always have a breeze back there. I had to put chicken wire cages around it to keep the squirrels out.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 8:52PM
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JenPeteFL

Dave, thanks for the Jericho suggestion. I've also planted some New Zealand Spinach and am eagerly waiting...

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 6:28PM
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gardengimp(9B Seminole Cnty FL)

JenPete - this sounds like a killer idea for your balcony - DIY hanging gutter garden

~dianne

Here is a link that might be useful: How to make a hanging gutter garden

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 12:07AM
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JenPeteFL

Thanks Dianne--I LOVE it! That's definitely something I want to try to do now. Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 9:58PM
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