hot weather greens

Everett - UTJuly 13, 2000

I just want people to know that I experimented with a salad mix of baby collards, baby chard (bright lights), baby kale (red russian), and beet greens (red ace)in my very hot summer climate here, and the mix is getting rave reviews. Just some new ideas for salad mix ingredients, especially somewhere hot. Some of my customers mix it with some store-bought romaine, but lots of others like it just as it is. And a nice thing is that those greens will continue to produce in the cool weather ahead, in fall, so I'll add it to my other lettuce-based mix.

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Del - 5

You are selling this mix as a fresh salad mix or as a mix for cooked baby greens? Sounds great either way to me.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2000 at 7:29AM
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Everett - UT

Yes, as a fresh salad mix. A selling point for the mix is that it can be stir-fried also, which I was planning on telling customers, but so far everyone is happy with it fresh. Also a note: I had planned to use tetragonia too, but it has proved to be an extremely slow germinating and growing plant. Maybe by the end of the summer...

    Bookmark   July 14, 2000 at 10:39AM
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Adriana - FL

Your mix sounds like it has great texture.

Does the Red Ace have red or green leaves? I use Bull's Blood in my mix because it has a beautiful red color, but by last August the plants gave out on me. Once it cooled down again into the mid-to-high 80s they did well again.

What variety of collards are you using?

I used Bright Lights in my mix for a while but found that it almost grew too fast and it was hard to keep the leaves small for a second or third cutting. Also, the stem color is not too pronounced at the baby stage but the flavor is nice. I bought some yellow stemmed chard seed and added it to the mix because I think there is too much white in it. The Red Giant kale was loved by my bugs so I dropped it.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2000 at 12:53PM
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Mary Faith - 6b

AT what temps will these greens grow? We'll be having 90-100+ from now thru September, and my salad customers are getting desperate. Will seeds planted now (with temps already high), grow well enough to produce? Do you shade them?

I've tried tetragonia & malabar both, several times, no success with either. I'd sure like to have some greens for those desperate folks!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2000 at 12:37AM
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Adriana - FL

Mary Faith,
Put 30-50% shade cloth over the greens and you should get about 50% of your usual yield. If you MUST have lettuces germinate them indoors in air conditioned space. As soon as they germinate put them outside or they will be too leggy to support themselves.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2000 at 5:49PM
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serendipity - 8

The mix sounds great - but I'm wondering how it will produce here in Ga with temps in the 90s. I've also tried Tetragonia with minimal germination. Now I've read that the soil temp should be 50 for germ. What I have had success with is Amaranthe - it loves hot and humid conditions - just what we have here. And it's a beautiful leaf - can be used in salads as baby leaves or grown to maturity and cooked. I've just grown a small area as a trial - plan to plant more for a mix.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2000 at 7:57PM
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Everett - UT

Let's see, answers to several questions:
The Red Ace beets have green leaves with nice dark red veination. They seem to be producing fine in the 100+ temps here, albeit under 50% shade cloth for the first half of the day (unplanned; afternoon shade would be better).

The collards are Champion, from Johnny's Selected Seeds. So far it is the only variety I have tried and they work great.

I have had a similar experience with the Bright Lights chard; it is a vigorous grower, and outpaces the rest of the mix slightly. I handpick all the ingredients of the mix every two days, harvesting individual leaves from each plant, so I just barely manage to stay ahead of the Bright lights.

And for Mary Faith and Serendipity, these greens are growing great in 100+ heat in the desert of southern Utah! They oughta grow just about anywhere else, too! Talk about customer satisfaction here...people are pretty awestruck and pay $8 a pound easily. I get 2-3 pounds of the mix every two days from 60' of beds, (15' for each variety), at a moderate density. I have just reseeded the thin areas, and expect I can double that volume by having the denser growth. I can keep you posted on how long the plantings produce, etc.

The prospect of the amaranth is interesting - purple amaranth grows well here and can quickly become a weed even. I'll have to check the flavor.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2000 at 12:33AM
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Mary Faith

Thanks a whole bunch! I have an empty space shaded by a large tree, and I'm gonna plunk some of those seeds in right away. I don't even TRY to grow lettuces in the summer, from many years of experience I know it's a lost cause. I've often sworn I'm going to grow some under lights in my bathroom, but have just never gotten around to trying it.

I've visited southern Utah, and if these babies will grow there, I just KNOW they'll do alright here!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2000 at 8:26AM
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everett - 6b/UT

A short update on my salad beds:
The red ace beets have certainly slowed down. The chard, kale and collards still chug along and taste good in the baby stage, though are slowing down, too; I am down to under 2 lbs per picking. Have fertilized with a liquid fertilizer to perk up, but I think the 100+ temps are the biggest factors. Have started adding some tetragonia which adds even more texture and a slightly strange taste.

The mix is still an incredible seller, some say the best they have ever tasted! Popular at our market in 1/4 lb. bags and restaurants are protective of their supply.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2000 at 3:37PM
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W Rowland - NY 5/6

No mention here at all of dandelion greens, or mache?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2000 at 10:53AM
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everett - 6b/UT

I didn't think that mache grew well in the heat. I tried growing some mache in the spring and I was pulling my hair out waiting for it to germinate, and it just grew sooo slowly I figured it was already too hot for it. As for the dandelion greens, I am unfamiliar with cultivating them. The plant does have a nice taproot, though.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2000 at 4:51PM
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adriana

Mache only likes cool (cold to almost freezing!) weather and grows slooooooowly - you're lucky to harvest at 52 days under optimal conditions....

    Bookmark   October 21, 2000 at 5:59PM
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flora UK

I agree with Adriana. Mache (Lamb's lettuce to us in UK) is a Winter salad. I've picked it eat with the cold turkey on December 26th. But our lowest winter temperature is around -2 or 3 and then only rarely in mid Winter. it likes to be cool and damp or it will run to seed. Have you tried iceplant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum)? I've read that it is perennial in a warm climate but I've never tried it. I'd probably have to grow it under cloches here.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2001 at 1:51PM
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Wildair z8 Miss.

All really great idaes on salad greens,Ive grown almost everything listed. My salad customers were cut off 2 weeks ago, as it it too hot.My salad season is Sept.-April. My problem(even w/ shade covers)is the humidity.You've given me sum ideas for next yr. Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2001 at 4:57PM
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everett 6b/UT

Hey, my old posting got pulled up again! Well, to update for this year, I am adding several baby brassicas/ asian greens, mostly ones recommended by Johnny's Seeds. Have found that scatter-seeding and cutting with scissors is a very efficient way to harvest this, like the lettuces.

Wildair - what does the humidity do to the greens, does it cause disease problems?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2001 at 3:15PM
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Wildair z8 Miss.

HEY Everett, I use 50% shade cloth,salad stuf still bolting.Or plants just up n wilt! Also aphids really increase w/ humidity.Not worth it too me, it is VERY humid here(SW MISS.)I can't imagine cutting alot of lettuce w/ scissors?this works well for you? This time of year I'm on to squash,tom's. etc. Thanks all....Wild

    Bookmark   May 9, 2001 at 5:19PM
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everett 6b/UT

It's pretty arid here but I can still see the potential of rot (black rot?)in my cutting lettuces. Yep, I scatter lettuce seed out thickly (or semi-thickly) and it grows in like a carpet that I can go through and cut handfuls at a time, adding up to many pounds pretty quickly. I'm suprised that the baby asian greens bolt rapidly for you...they are more heat tolerant than lettuces, and here (100+ summers) they comprise my summer salad mix, growing in direct sunlight (some beds might get 50% shade cloth). Interesting...it's just my second year growing this, so I'm just figuring it out.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2001 at 11:28PM
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adriana AL

Wildair,

I grew greens through the Florida summers. Yields were reduced by about 50% and bugs increased 1000%. Now I'm in your neck of the woods (Birmingham) and I'm about to harvest my first batch of baby greens today.

Wilting is not a problem for me as I grow hydroponically in raised benches. Germination of lettuce requires special handling however, but it can be done. I too, cut with scissors, but it's easy when you can do it standing up. No way for stoop culture for me!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2001 at 3:00PM
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penny_md6

Hi, I just thought this was a great thread so wanted to bring it up again...I learned a lot and though it's no where near hot summer yet...eh? Winter is the time to plan.
Good stuff here, thanks to Everett.

Penny~

    Bookmark   January 8, 2002 at 8:31PM
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egglady z 8 Northern CA

We plant our lettuces thickly as well, so they choke out weeds and are easy to harvest by the handful. A nice addition to our greens mixture is arugula. It's peppery peanut-like flavor makes it a wonderful addition to salads year round. We also used raddichio, baby bok choy leaves, and baby kale with a variety of baby lettuces like red, deer tounge, black seeded simpson and others. This year we have been able to raise greens all year on our farm by using our greenhouse to raise temp sensitive crops when it has been below freezing for days- but the kale and arugula stay viable and healthy out in the garden without any special cover. They can deal with the temps getting toasty also, if kept closely trimmed to resist bolting.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2002 at 1:09PM
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Thom Mc- Z5

Great thread, thanks for bringing it back up. We want to bump our lettuce production this year, but only one problem. We are going to have a tough time processing all those greens. We have a small washing machine in the garage, from my apartment days. Can we clean that thing up, power wash the inside, and use it as a giant salad spinner?? Any other hints about processing 10-15 lbs. of greens a day? We grow lettuce in 2' wide rows. Do you think you could cut it with an electric hedge type trimmer? Thom Mc- The Butterfly Ranch- Ann Arbor, Mich. Zone 5

    Bookmark   February 26, 2002 at 7:27AM
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adriana gutierrez

Yes you can, but it is best if you remove the center spindle. Other growers have installed some sort of control to the motor which allows it to run at a sligtly lower speed to avoid bruising the leaves.

About the hedge trimmer, been there, done that :>) but only use it for beds that need a serious "haircut" and will eventually be torn out. The make a very ragged cut and you will give up any chance of cut-and-come again due to ruined edges.

Somebody recently suggested a cordless electric carving knife as a possibility. These have amore appropriate serrated edge. I don't recall seeing cordless models but I suppose they are available.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2002 at 2:58AM
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everett 8/ N. Fl.

Hey! It's my old thread again! Glad it is helping others. I have more good ingredients to pass along... having tried red giant mustard alongside 2 asian greens called vitamin green and kommatsuna, the red giant underperforms in germination, days to maturity, and cold resistance. These two asian greens withstood a 10 degree freeze, unprotected, without any damage at all. And they sprout up in trays in 2 days. Good leaf weight & productivity, and also grow through scorching summers. Oh, and taste great! I'm also using mizuna now, another asian green that is tolerant of heat & cold. Mizuna is wonderfully easy to harvest planted in rows 3" apart, cut & come again. And when it bolts, the flower stalks taste like sweet broccoli with a hint of garlic. Customers tune in to the unique leaf shape and ask about it more than any other green.

I use a Dynamic salad spinner that has a 5 gallon stated capacity. Not sure what poundage of salad that equates to... maybe 1-2 lbs. I've been handling 15-30 lbs of greens each harvest day with a nice sequence of washtub dunkings, spinner, and air dry in laundry basket. The spinner is expensive ($220) but invaluable.

Also, I use spring-loaded scissors (meaning ones that spring back open) to cut with, and can harvest rows of baby lettuce, mizuna, or arugala quite nicely, filling up a 5 gallon bucket in 15-20 minutes. The hedgetrimmer sounds like a fun idea but it doesn't collect the leaves that you cut! And I bet it gets pretty ragged like adrianna said.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2002 at 2:37PM
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earl(SW Ohio 5-6)

Well, I'm not a market gardener, but you guys have given me some great ideas for my home garden. THANKS!!! Mind if I copy and post it over in the Vegetable Forum? I'm sure lots of folks will find it informative.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2002 at 2:48PM
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everettFL(8/ N. Fl.)

Copy away! I need to retract that I said the vitamin green and kommatsuna didn't get hurt at all by 10 degrees... they were damaged but grew out of it. The red giant regrew from withered nubs, but not as quickly.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2002 at 9:55PM
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Mayapple(z6 KY)

I've been following this thread, which has encouraged me to at least purchase a nice variety of greens and lettuces. My questions lie along the production end of things, like how do manage to keep the weeds out of your rows, which sound like they are dense, wide rows? Are you growing in raised beds with lots of organic matter? Do you shade with tunnels, or are you using a greenhouse structure for your shade support? And so forth...

    Bookmark   March 24, 2002 at 7:59PM
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penny_md6

Hi all...I love this thread! Like Earl I'm not a market garden either but hope to be one day soon...and this thread is remarkable for marketers and others who love greens.

Mayapple, I've recently been hugging Eliot Coleman's books...at the moment "Four Season Harvest" Great reading. I've been growing heirloom lettuces, mizuna, arugula, mache, dandelion, cress and kale undercover since February. (thanks to the warmer weather we've had) I love em all. There's been a couple of touchy moments in which I tossed a large heating pad into the hoophouse but I've lost nothing. Temps dropped into the teens a coupla nights ago without damage to the plants. I didn't even cover the mache or cress. My beds are set up so that I can shade them with the warmer season plants by June 1.

I'm trying some of the endives and chicory now. I don't have all the names down yet and too lazy to go look but the frisee, ruffec??? and some others. I'm also growing BB beets, 1st time and red russian kale.

Here the farmers market doesn't open till like May 1st which is too bad.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2002 at 10:21PM
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adrianag(AL z7)

Everett, I grew Komatsuna early on but found that it had little to offer in the way of flavor and texture so I dropped it out of my mix. I'll need to look into Vitamin Green.

I love the flavor of Red Giant Mustard and never had germination problems. Perhaps you had a bad batch of seeds. I did, however develop a nasty skin allergy to it which produces a rash like poison ivy that takes months to clear up. I like it so much that I still grow it, but use disposable gloves to handle my greens. It also keeps my hands looking better.

I used to think I couldn't grow chives in Florida due to climate. It turns out the seed pack I received had a 6.3% germination rate and the pack was sent in error. If you buy from Johnny's the batch is germination tested and the results are on it.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2002 at 3:54AM
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everettFL(8/ N. Fl.)

Mayapple - My growing technique has evolved into using salad "tables" made of two courses of haybales with (completely) finished mushroom compost filling the top. So the greens grow in 100% mushroom compost, which so far (5 months) is working well as a growing medium. The tables are generally weed-free; you can see why. On the ground, my beds are 30" and greens are planted in single rows spaced about 4" apart. Denser spacing (like scatter seeding for a solid carpet) has made the greens choke themselves out and is conducive to diseases in this humidity and with our dowsing rains. I'm trying to move everything up onto tables, which cost me $120 for a 40' length. My approach to weeding is to direct seed/ transplant right after tilling, harvest the greens until the weeds start getting a leg up, and then till the whole bed and replant with a different type of veggie. Well, I'm not quite that averse to pulling some weeds, but close. About shade cloth - I started out using 50% black shade cloth in southern Utah, but it was too worrisome to see wilted lettuce plants in the middle of the day. Ergo I switched to the different hot weather greens that did acceptably in the direct searing sun, even w/o shade cloth.

Adrianna - Actually the mildness of kommatsuna (and vitamin green is pretty similar in taste, and the new bekana) is something I like about it (filler?)to balance out other stronger flavors like arugala, cutting celery, red mustard. Originally my only aim with this mix was to unoffensively substitute different greens for lettuce and spinach that wouldn't grow through the searing summer. So I've kind of tiptoed with the flavors. Komm is a really vigorous plant! But I've seen its yield taper off before other greens do. I decided I like the red giant mustard after all, and the color is a good addition. Oh, and I have to retract that the komm and vitagreen were unharmed by 10 degrees... but they did pull out of it quickly. Please keep me informed of your salad growing experiences since we're both in the deep south now!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2002 at 1:22PM
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adrianag(AL z7)

Everett,
I was at workshop last week and met a large organic grower from Atlanta. He recommends Batavia lettuces for production through the summer. I have some on order.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2002 at 4:20AM
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penny_md6

Adrianna posted this link on a thread recently and I gotta bring it up again. I thought it was lost but... VIOLA! Here it is again and such good information I hate to see it roll off the page, I learned so much...hey, I printed it out!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2002 at 8:20PM
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Sundrop(Zone 6 Indiana)

Hi folks. I am not a market gardener yet but am looking at trying it. I have a couple of questions, one being how does this salad mix hold up while at market? Do you need some way of keeping it cool? And how soon before market do you cut it?

My husband talked to the lady at our market (which is sort of small in comparison to some I've been to) about being an organic gardener. She was very interested, as apparently there is no one at the market that sells organically raised veggies. I would love to try it. There is just something about being a gardener that makes you want to share your stuff with other people. And there is no harm in making some money at it. Wish me luck. I'll try to keep you posted.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2002 at 8:43AM
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earthsong(6b)

Sundrop, I pick my greens either the evening before, or the morning of, market. Since we're talking "hot weather greens" here, I'd pick in the morning if you can. Rinse in cool water and spin dry (important!). They must be kept cool at market too - I just use a big cooler w/ice on the bottom. Leave bags open so condensation can escape.

Everett, I'm getting ready to try all the info you've been giving us, as spring lettuces will be bolting soon. Your answer to weeds is exactly what I do. Love your idea of hay bales & mushroom compost! Tho I don't have access to the compost & will have to trial other kinds.

Thanks for mentioning the kinds of asian greens that will stand up to heat - I order most of my seeds from Johnny's but often forget to call on their advisory expertise.....

Will look forward to seeing postings to this thread as the long hot summer sets in.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 1:40AM
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Sundrop(Zone 6 Indiana)

What would be the best way for someone new to "spin dry" their greens? I don't have any idea as to how to do it. There must be a secret here. Do tell.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2002 at 5:06PM
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adrianag(AL z7)

There are anumber of ways:

1. Get a spin dryer from somebody like Johnny's Selected Seeds - it's expensive

2. Rig up an old washing machine

3. Put them in a mesh bag ans spin tit over your head

4. Rig up a round laundry basket on a rope hanging from an eye hook in the ceiling. Wind up the basket in one direction, release it and let it unwind

    Bookmark   June 5, 2002 at 2:33AM
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earthsong(6b)

For small quantities, you can find inexpensive salad spinners at stores like Wal-mart(I found mine at a yard sale for $1). It's a large bowl w/inside colander on a spindle & lid w/a handle to spin. Someone once told me they put theirs in a clean pillowcase & swung it around their head!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2002 at 9:53PM
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earl(SW Ohio 5-6)

Everett,
I just can't get it through my thick skull about how you use hay bales as tables to grow salad greens. Could you give a better description? Or anyone else. Thanks!

Earl

    Bookmark   June 23, 2002 at 3:00PM
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adrianag(AL z7)

Good question Earl.

Everett, are you simply using the hay bales as a border material for raised beds, or are you putting a layer of mushroom compost on TOP of a double layer of hay bales?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2002 at 6:42AM
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joycrick(zone9 FLA)

Have you been to the ECHO website? They have seeds of greens and lettuce red especially for hot, tropical conditions. They are located in Homestead( south Florida) so they should know about heat. www.ECHO.org

    Bookmark   June 28, 2002 at 3:37PM
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adrianag(AL z7)

ECHO is in Ft. Myers, Florida, on the west coast about 2 hours south of Tampa. You can order seeds from them by phone and mail.

They have a wonderful web site too.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2002 at 11:45AM
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everettFL(8/ N. Fl.)

Howdy, I've been offline for several weeks and love to see more new postings on this thread. Thanks Adrianna for the ECHO site; I'll check it soon. Yes, I have mushroom compost on top of a double layer of hay bales... the bottom course is laid on its side (the side the twine wraps around) and the second course stands on its ends (the rough ends that the hay pokes out). Sigh, it's hard to describe just right. I have photos I can email to anyone interested. It is a very nice system... my yields are up to 48 lb a week (in 2 pickings) and there's no way I'd be able to harvest all that if it grew on the ground. I don't add any additional fertilizer and find the plant roots penetrate deeply into the rotting hay. It's July in FL and so far the tables are holding together (I built them last Dec).

About my mix, too... it has become a great hit here in Tallahassee and I am selling everything I can pick. A local produce manager says he's never seen something move so quickly in his dept! I do think a lot of the fans of the mix like it because of the hot mustard greens(red giant mustard) that tastes like wasabi. The yields are just increasing in the heat, having no lettuce or spinach at all now.

I currently use one of the 5 gallon spinners that Johnny's Seeds distributes but am interested in this washing machine idea. Would love more info/ to hear people's personal experiences with building these.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2002 at 3:56PM
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adrianag(AL z7)

Everett how thick a layer of mushroom copost are you using. And are you growing under shade cloth?

What is in your blend this time of year?

48# out of how many total sw ft in cultivation?

Are you recutting every other week?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2002 at 7:37PM
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everettFL(8/ N. Fl.)

Adrianna - The original layer of mushroom compost was about 3" thick (on top of the haybale)... as deep as the distance from the edge of a haybale to the twine. Whenever I replant a bed, I add about a wheelbarrowload of more finished or unfinished mushroom compost. Not growing under shadecloth, it's all right out in the open. I'm using baby kales, collards, chards, kommatsuna, vitamin green, bull's blood beet greens, tokyo bekana, and cutting celery, and tetragonia if I ever have time to get to it. That's 48# from 6 tables 35-40' long, so about 240'... and I have to harvest twice a week or everything would get too big (over 8"?) The harvesting really is pretty manageable; I do it all myself in about 4-5 hours. The mix sells for avg $6.50 a lb.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2002 at 9:23PM
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adrianag(AL z7)

Everett, I believe you harvest individual leaves. Have you tried cutting the entire plant down to about 1-1.5" above the base? Cutting goes MUCH faster this way, I would guess you could cut your timein half. And you still will get good regrowth. Doing it this way you alternate beds, cutting every other week, in winter it may take a little longer to grow back due to lower light.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2002 at 1:07PM
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everettFL(8/ N. Fl.)

Adrianna - yes, I mostly do cut individual leaves. I've had success cutting the whole plant with arugala, mache, lettuces, and first-cut kommatsuna. It is definitely faster, but I'm just not on that long of a rotation (every other week) currently. Maybe this fall I'll plan to grow lettuces like this to add to the other ingredients... I don't completely like other ways of growing lettuce (scatter-seeded carpet, in 4" spaced strips, and 4-6" spaced single plants) for salad mix.

PS - Would you send me your email address; I'd love to talk with you more about salad...!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2002 at 5:42PM
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herbal(z7 MD)

I'd really like to grow salad greens, but I'm so unsure. I suppose I'm scared of investing time, money and energy, and no one's interested. Is this a dificult product to begin?

    Bookmark   January 8, 2003 at 10:08PM
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etznab(7 NC)

What a great thread. I'm glad someome brought it to the front again!

How do you package your greens for sale? Clamshells? Cheap ziploc bags? Specialty produce plastic bags?

    Bookmark   January 15, 2003 at 12:56PM
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adrianag(AL z7)

Clamshells are Ok, but if you can get the two-piece deeper plastic containers (same material as the clamshells) they seal tightet and give better shelf life. Look for the ones that hold 64 oz, they use these int he grocery stores for cut fruit. Otherwise plastic ziplock bags are OK.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2003 at 1:40AM
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everettFL(8/ N. Fl.)

Here I am entering my 4th year growing & refining my hot weather salad mix and it is nostalgic to read my first words that started this thread! I'm still growing basically the same ingredients, have improved technique, developed a local following that clamors for everything I can grow. I peaked last July with selling 50 lb a week of salad, all self-harvested, from 6 salad tables 40' long. I wish I could say it's made me fabulously rich, but maybe I need to distribute a video to do that!

For Herbal - I think salad mix is the ONE item a gardener can grow that appeals to almost everyone, especially to people who don't really cook and so aren't interested in the usual garden produce. Certain restaurants will drool over a fresh local mix & are tired of wilty spring mix bulked up with too much radicchio that distributors provide. I'd really recommend Salad Gardening for Profit, from Territorial Seeds, to outline for you what is possible.

I distribute my salad for retail in a clear 1-mil polyethylene bag sealed with a twist tie, and with a 2" x 4" label on the front, in 6 oz size. Much less expensive than a ziploc, still looks great (crystal-clear plastic is important), and with the right moisture content prior to bagging, the salad leaves last for 2 weeks or more. Wholesale packaging is in gusseted 1-lb bags, 2mil thick, also twist-tied.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2003 at 4:01PM
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solstice(7)

Everett - Great job! You've inspired me.
I've got a couple tons of really, really old hay. Some of it is finally going to be put to good use. I've grown head lettuce rather than mixes because of all that low level work, but I'm gonna give this a shot.
Thanks

    Bookmark   January 20, 2003 at 7:10AM
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everettFL(8/ N. Fl.)

Solstice - Hooray! I'm glad you want to try the haytables, I really think they are the ticket. To warn you about building them: foremost, the bales have to be baled with poly-twine, not natural fiber, or the twine will rot immediately and leave you a big useless pile. I did that last September (duh). Feel free to email me if you want any pictures/ table construction advice.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2003 at 9:22AM
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solstice(7)

Let's keep this thread going.
I built a table this past spring and planted it half lettuce mix and half Thai braising mix (Rocky Top lettuce mix and Siam Dragon braising mix, both from Bakers Creek). What a great way to grow. Thanks a bunch for your help!
The Siam Dragon mix is awesome. I stir-fried some with bok choi and garlic last weekend. My critique: I could eat a ton of this stuff! I hope my customers can too. I sold it at 2 markets last week so I'll be looking for some feedback from customers later this week. The problem with the mix though is that I can't identify all the greens, and some of my customers are asking. I've emailed Bakers Creek for the composition of their mix.
One of the customers upon seeing the Oriental greens suggested an Italian greens braising mix. I'm looking for suggestions.
Anybody have any thoughts? Broccoli raab, dandelion, arugula, endive, beet greens, kale, chard?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2003 at 11:13AM
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adrianag(AL z7)

Please tell us more about the Siam Dragon mix. What's in it and do the components all come up at the same time? Ditto for the Rocky Top mix?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2003 at 2:08PM
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solstice(7)

The components do come up at the same time. From what I can tell, and this is not a complete list and not verified, there is a red mustard, tatsoi, red russian kale, autumn poem and three or four other greens.
The feedback from customers was excellent! Customers that bought one last week bought two or three this week. Friends were sending friends over to pick some up. I felt like a drug dealer. People were coming up asking for the Siam Dragon greens saying "so and so sent me"
It's a hit at the two markets I sell at. Highly recommended!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2003 at 5:18AM
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adrianag(AL z7)

At what stage (age/size) are you harvesting the Siam Dragon mix?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2003 at 6:42AM
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solstice(7)

I'm harvesting a shy of 30 days from seeding. We've had a very wet and cool Spring though.
You could easily harvest sooner and smaller. I'm cutting whole plants and bunching. You could cut baby leaves and bag for salad mix. I like having the option.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2003 at 5:25AM
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TDAY

Has anyone had any experience selling "New Zealand Spinach"?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2003 at 10:14AM
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huisjen(z5 ME)

Hi Everett,

How long doeas a bale table last? Can you use it for more than one season?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2003 at 4:46PM
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marylandmojo(zone 7--Md.)

TDAY---I can't give you any recommendation for New Zealand Spinach. It has no taste--none. I don't like it, and never had a customer like it. I don't know what merit it has, other than it does grow through the hottest weather. I eat any garden vegetable known to man, but must pass on NZS. I mentioned this very fact on another thread, where someone said it tasted like spinach. To me, it bears no resemblance to the taste of spinach. Another said it tasted allright mixed with chard and coooked. It's pretty blah by itself. I would consider someone who liked it the eternal optomist.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2003 at 7:30AM
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TDAY

Thanks for the reply marylandmojo. I believe your
assessment of the taste is correct,very little.
Oh well,you never know till you try.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2003 at 10:21AM
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gponder(7/South OR)

Forget shade cloth!! I live in Southern Oregon, where temps in the 90s to low 100s are not unusual. This summer has been especially hot! I have read all of the descriptions on "non-bolting...bolt resistant....not bitter" lettuces. None have proven to be salvagable in the summer heat until I found Jericho Romaine from Seeds of Change. I planted this lettuce in full sun, and again the temps have been in the high 90s to 100s...this lettuce is crisp and sweet!! Try it, you won't be dissapointed. At market I make my customers taste it. One taste and it's sold. Happy growing.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2003 at 10:40PM
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SolaFide(z7 GA)

Tetragonia and New zealand spinach are th same. Plant it 6wks before lastfrost in unheated coldframe=min.30 degrees. Takes 8 wks to germ and 75 to produce

    Bookmark   September 9, 2003 at 6:35PM
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everettFL(8/ N. Fl.)

Wow this thread has a life of its own! Nice feeling for moi.Let's see... my tables just don't want to last more than one season, and look pretty saggy by Sept. This is in Florida, and we've had 2 pretty wet summers, and such a long growing season that the decomposers have plenty of time to get the bales. One big comment from this year: I don't recommend using straw bales, because so much of the bale is air that when the straws get wet enough & soften, a bale can deflate like an air mattress. Best to use so far is coastal grass hay (that's a low-nitrogen hay in the southeast. As far as I know it is low-ranked for feed value but it's all people seem to be able to grow well). Also, I now build the haybale tables on top of a wooden frame, because it is the bottom bales holding so much weight that tended to collapse first. But when a table is no longer useable because of shape (or height) you just break it down and you have 50 bales of incredible mulch/ soil amendment.

I only wind up using NZ Spinach sparingly and opportunistically in my mix. Even when trying to cultivate it in large quantities, it is tedious to harvest, even when grown on a table. Taste? Well, my wife certainly doesn't like it and most people probably wouldn't. It does add an interesting crisp texture. I think it is the astringency of it that reminds me more of spinach or chard (which family it is in?) than the taste.

For gponder in Oregon: imagine growing an entire salad mix of greens that don't need shadecloth in the summer! I used to grow this mix in southern Utah, much like eastern Oregon's climate? I continue to stump people here about how I can grow "lettuce" in the summer... the secret is that it isn't lettuce! And they should stop calling it that! :) It's all asian greens now, or you could call it a mixture of mild mustard greens. Mizuna, mibuna, tatsoi, yukina, kommatsuna (mustard spinach), tokyo bekana, red giant. I try to keep baby kales and collards in there too. The only tricky time is wetting them down in the heat to germinate the seeds, but after 2-3 initial waterings (I do have great humidity here) it's only 1-2 waterings a week for a month and then they are ready.

I'm shifting over to using the tables for plants that I pick leaf-by-leaf (kales, collards, chards, beet greens) but growing the mustards on the ground so I can produce & harvest in greater quantities. A new ground bed is planted every week, and harvest follows 3-4 weeks later, 20 lb from a 50 foot bed, in 2 hours' time. Probably the way most other salad growers do their salad mix.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2003 at 4:25PM
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Cindi McMurray

Thank you Everett and others, for all the great progress reports. Can you help me duplicate your success? I'm in Kansas, where the climate is more like your former garden in Utah. I would like to grow greens at least 9 months of the year using the straw bales. (Or would hay be better?) The idea of building tables with the bales gives me great hope as I just found out my career as a gardener will end if I have to bend and lift--plus I would think you could rototill the decomposed bales into poor ground to create new beds instantly! What are your suggestions for the best mixes for hot weather and then for a cooler season? I do not have high humidity here and will have to rig up either sprinklers or soaker hoses. Do any of your market customers ask for baby corn, or is that a fad that has passed? And, one last question...have you tried worm compost mixed in with the mushroom compost?

Cindi, in Kansas, under 8" of snow

    Bookmark   February 10, 2004 at 9:29PM
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kengena(7a)

Just wanted to bump this thread up, because even though I am not a market gardener, I found it very helpful. With hot weather soon to be upon us, hopefully it will be helpful to other salad growers as well!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2004 at 3:33PM
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Ron_and_Patty(z7 GA)

Just found this thread, and wondering how things are going for Everett and the rest of the contributors to this inspiring post...

    Bookmark   August 31, 2004 at 5:30PM
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sandhill_farms(10 NV)

Hey Everette in Utah,

I tried to send you an email regarding hot weather growing and it was returned. Would you be so kind to send me your email address so I can correspond. My address is: gsmith@mvdsl.com

Thanks!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2004 at 8:52AM
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adrianag(AL z7)

Everett,
How did you make out with Ivan, please let us know. It was pretty interesting here in Birmingham but we got through without any damage, not even to my greenhouse.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2004 at 5:30AM
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Kamine(z6 IN)

I really like this thread. How would you decide what kinds to plant if you were to start over again?

    Bookmark   November 9, 2004 at 6:46PM
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new2gardenfl(Z9 CentralFL)

Helpful Hint:

A makeshift salad spinner (for home use) is a plastic grocery bag and a clean dish towel. Put the greens in the towel and then place in the plastic grocery bag and whoorl the bag around for a few good spins.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2004 at 5:21AM
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kevinw1

A mesh laundry bag whirled around the head also makes a good spinner, but outdoors since the water will fly out!

Any of the "whirl around the head" methods will wreck your shoulders if used regularly. We put 4 mesh laundry bags in the clothes washer and spin on the gentle cycle for the shortest possible time. Works great.

We also tried *washing" in the washer but that was a very bad idea. Even on the most gentle possible cycle the whole batch of baby lettuce came out crushed.

Kevin

    Bookmark   December 19, 2004 at 7:21PM
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tbronson(4)

Salad spinning/greens drying:

* Started -- very briefly -- with the spinning mesh bag around outdoors method. Kinda labor-intensive ;) if you have a lot to do.

* An old top-loading washer turned up and (dunno where I read the tip), tried it and it works GREAT. Do a mesh laundry bag at a time (planning to try two), run for 20-30 seconds (guessing, definitely well under a minute).

(I want to remove the agitator to make more room, not sure if that will throw the balance off, and it doesn't seem easy to remove though I haven't really looked into it closely, so far just tried to twist.)

* Saw the Johnny's Seed 5 gal spinner but seems small, and is expensive at $200.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2005 at 4:13PM
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jayreynolds(zone 6/7)

As hot weather is nearly here, I thought I'd bring this up again. I'd especially like to hear how the haytables mentioned last year(see earlier postings) have worked out for people.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 9:37AM
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everettFL(8/ N. Fl.)

I've been so busy making my farm work I've tuned out any of my web time! I've got 5 years under my belt now of growing greens through the summer and I feel I've peaked at a level of what I can do working by myself & would need to figure out how to hire help if I did more. I do 30-40 lb salad and 20-25 lb arugula a week, though I'm nosediving right now because of the weeds... September-early December will bring the next surge of greens.

After 3 seasons of haybale tables, I did decide to convert my planning to the ground... I can handle the harvesting, the bales rotted too fast for me here, and the expense of rebuilding new ones got too hard to ante up for. But it was part of my start-up at this new farm site... I did indeed make some fantastic beds out of the old hay bale areas, and have greatly enjoyed having the mulch for other areas. Although for me June-August now I'm wondering if a few tables would carry me through my worst weed season. I can verify that the greens grow fine all through the heat and humidity (with occasional disease/ spotting problems in prolonged wet weather). I now grow spinach-mustard, red giant mustard, red russian kale, tokyo bekana, mizuna, radish greens, and turnip tops for my mix. If some one takes this recipe and runs with it, more power to you! I'm maxed out on what I can do, and my market is still very strong. Not to let the cat out of the bag about the arugula, either, but regular arugula grows great for me through the summer without any shade cloth, etc.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 9:40PM
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tomatobob_va7(z7 VA)

Thanks, Everett for the original post and all the information. This year IÂm using hay bales and planting your recommended seed mix for stir-fry.
I have a 25-foot row of bales. I was lucky to curb-shop a few shipping crates (32"x4Â) made of 1"x 4" boards and I knocked out the backs of these to make frames to fit on top of the hay bales. I used black mulching cloth cut in 6" strips to form a skirt, which I stapled to the base of the boards to prevent soil loss. I put the row up on pallets, which I placed on top of black plastic
I put in a mix of compost, Pro-mix and potting soil about 4" deep. I think the soil was too deep and too heavy for the first planting of mixed lettuce I tried. So when the lettuce was gone, I shoveled out half of the soil and put in the stir-fry seed mix. I dribbled in lines of seeds about 3" apart and just watered them in. Even so, I needed to pinch-thin some parts of the rows. I use aerated compost tea on the bed once every 1-2 weeks, and it has just started producing like mad. I cut 4 8-oz bags this morning and could have cut more. The temperature this week in Virginia is in the 90s, and my bales get 10 hours of sun.
I like the ease of no-stoop harvest and the relatively weed-free crop. I am having mushrooms pop up from the hay beneath. They last only a few hours and then wither, but I donÂt want to have that in my customers bags, so IÂm careful to pull out the stems as fast as they come up. I will continue to use this method, but I need to find some cheaper hay. Bandits around here want $6 per bale!
Thanks again for getting me started on this method.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 4:58PM
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rita2004(8)

Wow To this thread. I read the whole thing probaly twice over and I really want to try this. I grow hydroponic lettuce in south texas and it is really hot here. I have cut off my hydroponic lettuce and cleaned the whole thing out and waiting for cooler weather to get here. I guess that would be october for me and my lettuce customers are screaming for lettuce. I want to know how much of each seed do you mix together to get the right mix? Also do you just hand water the table or do you have drip irrigation on it? Does the mix take alot of water and how often? I am definitely going to try this system because I figure if Everett has been doing it for five years now, it must work. Could you Everett or someone else that has taken his idea have any great advice, I could sure use it. I have a huge trailer of mushroom compost sitting in my back yard and acess to plenty of old coastal hay, so all I need to do is get out there and put it all together. Tips appreciated.

Rita

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 7:21PM
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aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)

I thought I should bump this up as it's been so useful for many people. Everett, if you see this, I can't tell you how many times I've linked this thread. Great information going on 6 years now!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 9:10AM
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bindersbee(6a UT)

I just got linked to this thread and I feel like I'm drinking out of a firehose! I live in Utah and am thrilled by the prospect of being able to grow greens through the summer. What a great resource. Thanks!

Anyone have success with the Batavia lettuces? I know they probably won't take the heat of mid-summer but will they last longer in the spring and can they be started earlier for a fall crop?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 6:54PM
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organic_nut

I wish he had mentioned the Batavia Lettuce names. I am doing some Nevada Lettuce and I think that qualifies as a Batavia.

This has been a great thread and I hope it keeps going. Anyone and everyone who wants to share on doing cut and come again greens should please post whatever they want.

Hats off to everett. a great guy and a great grower.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 2:08PM
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stan_gardener(cen ca)

if you like the nevada try sierra. johnys markets it as magenta. i use every thing and any thing (except cilantro)in salad and dont understand every bodys problem with lettuce. i would still make salad with out lettuce but with red and green salad bowl, magenta and jericho during summer its not necessary.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2006 at 12:51AM
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organic_nut

yes I was thinking of getting sierra. good you recommend it. I did not know it was the same as magenta. is it identically the same or just similar but different technically.

Jericho is another one I just have to get. that one should be great in the heat.

thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2006 at 11:28PM
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stan_gardener(cen ca)

without looking it up i think the magenta is more resistant to tip burn. technially sierra and magenta are probably differant. jericho is a romaine type lettuce. ive never done as well with romaine types so if your the same be forwarned.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 5:08PM
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organic_nut

Johnny's seed catalog says that Magenta is an improved Sierra. I believe that Magenta was developed by Johnny's. so naturally they are selling it.

My romaines are not doing so well this year. what kind of lettuce does best for you.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 11:34PM
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organic_nut

getting hit real hard by groundhog. any advice

    Bookmark   June 24, 2006 at 5:49PM
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cenanoca9

Just had to bump this for the warm zone folks who need to begin planting this stuff soon. Fabulous thread.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 9:30AM
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aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)

LOL, I came over here to do the same thing. This is an awesome thread and I hate to see it disappear into cyber-space.

BTW, a couple of folks here mentioned Jericho lettuce. I grew it last summer for the 1st time and I can't say enough about it. This is an excellent tasting romaine type that holds up incredibly well in the summer heat. It never got bitter and was the last to bolt. I got my seeds from John Scheepers, Kitchen Garden Seed. Collect the seeds and you'll never have to buy them again.

Happy spring! (almost)

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 2:13PM
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ruthieg__tx(z8 TX)

Does anyone have pictures of their hay bale tables that you could post...I would so love to see what it looks like...I came in search of just hot season green info and now I am so curious...

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 2:30PM
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ole_dawg(7 UpCountry SC)

Bump it again as this is such great information

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 9:50AM
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chickenista

What a great thread! I have a long list of stuff to try this year!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 9:42PM
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rita_from_mo

Another bump up...Oh I know its cold out side and the only greens I see are at the store.But Its never to early to start planning and ordering seeds or finding seeds threw trades.I am so greatful for all the wisdom shared here.
I would love to hear more from everyone who loves greens as much as I do ...
Rita_from_Mo

    Bookmark   January 23, 2008 at 6:52PM
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herself(z5NH)

This is a wonderful thread. I'll be re-reading this over & over!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 7:18PM
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negirl

Just found this, great stuff! What do any of you do about little green caterpillars? I can't imagine any of those brassicas growing here in summer without getting eaten off before they had a chance to start. I have been growing malabar for two years. I have a few dedicated customers, but a lot of people don't like the texture. However, I plant once and harvest until frost. Any tips on amaramth greens? I like them but don't have great luck growing. I would like to bunch them.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 10:31AM
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dogsmiles

My lettuce has mostly bit the dust. I have a few to cut for my own dinner table that are planted under zuchini and pepper plants! I am SO thrilled with this post. Time to order seeds and see what mixes work for me here in Eastern VA. Thanks to everyone for the postings.

What do you all do for watering set ups for your summer salad beds? I'm assuming they take just as much as the spring beds take to stay sweet and crisp? Any advise is appreciated - I'm tired of draining the rainbarrels and hand watering:)

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 12:50PM
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gardendawgie(5)

Bump. I was doing a search of Arugula and ran into this thread. Terrific. I am all excited about this year and hope to try different ideas from this thread.

I would like to see a picture of those hay bale tables.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 3:20PM
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jillzee

Thank you for bumping this, gardendawgie!

This thread has so much wonderful information - I'm going to have to read it again once I get home from work so I can actually pay more attention to what I'm reading.

Thanks for making such a wonderful thread, Everett! Started 10 years ago, and still going strong!

Jill

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 10:13AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

wow - 10 years!

Any updates, Everett?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 1:45PM
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marthacr(z5 Me)

just found this thread, bumping again! Could be what I'm looking for as "braising greens."
Martha

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 10:03PM
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dhijana

I am a market gardener as well, specializing in what we call our super salad mix. We have built three 16 ft. long lettuce tables from all recycled materials, using old plywood for the sides (covered with old polyethylene plastic of course), old polycarbonate pieces from a roof damaged by hail for the base layed on top of wooden supports, and up on 6 4x4 legs. The cost was minimal- a few screws, and a bit of lumber only (for us) the rest we had on hand. The bonus is the structure is nearly permanent- we anticipate many years of service. We had tried the straw bale thing and failed miserably. Our table is at our ideal working height, away from the Bermuda grass and kind to our elderly backs. We put about 12 inches of wood chips, (free from tree men nearby), and 6 inches of soil that we make with compost, chicken manure, vermiculite, and various organic additives. Our lettuces grow beautifully and we have placed the tables in shadier parts of our half acre urban homestead so we can grow year around. We protect the crops from those cabbage moth larvae (the little green worms) by putting window screen material stapled to lathe wood pieces over the PVC pipe arches we installed. This doubles as shade cloth and keeps the moth out when she wants to lay eggs.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 3:56PM
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rustico_2009

Bump

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 2:46PM
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randy41_1

for summer lettuce/salad mix we made a growing bed that gets late afternoon shade. we transplant head lettuce and direct seed the lettuce for salad mix with a 4 row pinpoint seeder. we are having problems with flea beetles on the other salad mix ingredients so the mix for now is mostly small lettuce leaves. the head lettuce bolted but has remained sweet so we pull off the big leaves and wash them and bag them.
demand for this during the summer way outstrips supply and we have no trouble selling out the quantity we have been bringing to the market. next summer we will grow much more.
we charge $8/lb for the mix and the larger lettuce leaves.
we could probably get more $ but we want these lettuce customers to be loyal when the lettuce glut hits the market and consistent price should help with that. lettuce glut is in april, may, and october, november. every vendor has it then. so easy to grow.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 6:08AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Great thread to bump!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 9:45PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Where did this come from again? Anyway I really got my mind on summer greens next season! I would like to do a mix of greens in one area and try to keep baby lettuce going in another area. Both will have shade. What things besides kale, chard, beet greens do ok in heat. Which of the Asian mustard greens are heat tolerant and mild for raw use as baby leaves?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 8:33PM
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mary4b(4b WI)

I know this is an old thread, but hopefully someone can help me.

I just bought the 3 recommended greens for this mix: Russian Red Baby Kale, Bright Lights Swiss Chard, and Red Ace beet greens.

I bought these in beautiful 6-pack cells, packed tight with the greens.

My question is this...they are practically already tall enough to harvest, but I don't have them in the ground yet.

Should I plant them and let them grow and harvest as soon as I see them starting to grow (which I assume would mean that the roots have taken hold?)

To harvest, do I just pick the leave individually, or do I shear them off the whole plant and then wait for it to reproduce new leaves?

Thank you!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 9:44AM
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myfamilysfarm

I would plant them, get them established before cutting too much. You could cut some, but not all.

Yes, you should see them grow when established.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 4:33PM
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doginthegarden

What a helpful thread! I'm a home gardener in a hot dry climate with an interest in (mostly) greens. Mustards and arugula survive the heat and pests the best, have not cracked the nut yet on lettuces in summertime. I have some tree collards that are surviving but not easily. Thought I'd comment so it bumps this back up on the list - 13 years after original post!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 1:12PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)


Here is a pic of my summer greens. It is a mix of kale, chard, beet tops, mizuna, tatsoi, komatsuna, spigariello and tyfon, but I have not seen the last two. The tatsoi is bolting but is remaining good to eat. I think I would leave out komatsuna next time as it is too prickly and too large. I would focus on chard, mizuna and kale and plan to pull the tatsoi later.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 11:34PM
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jimmygfarm

Great thread

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 12:31PM
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sweetwilliam89(5b)

I believe Colorado State extension did a test for lettuce bolting a few years ago and found that batavian type lettuces were hands down the best type of lettuce to handle summer heat.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 6:59PM
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