picked our first crop of lettuce

mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)June 27, 2010

We picked some of our lettuce assortment tonight - yea! It was tender and fresh, such a thrill. Our other veges are doing well, but DH is going to put some organic fertilizer on the tomatoes. They are all starting to bear some fruit, but the plants themselves are a little scrawny. Tested the soil and all else seem fine except for fertilization.

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treebarb Z5 Denver

mstywoods,
Doesn't that give you a sense of satisfaction?
We had our first salad from the garden last week, lettuce, radishes, red onions, cherry tomatoes. The only thing that didn't come from the garden were the carrots as they weren't ready yet.
Thanks for the reminder as I haven't fertilized toms yet.
I love this time of year, not the heat, but the digging is done, now just weeding, watering and watching the garden grow!
Barb

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 8:41AM
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Dan Staley

I have to interject and state I have a butterhead variety 'Mottistone' that has had two days over 95ºF and several more over 90ºF and still isn't bolting. Except for mid-July to end-August, we have lettuce all year and I recommend planting more!

:o)

Dan

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 9:58AM
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jeremywildcat

I tried some lettuce and spinach this year for the first time. It is really nice to have fresh lettuce ready for picking in the garden for things like sandwiches, burgers, salads, etc. I'm just not sure it's that much better than what you can get at the store. At least not like the difference between store and garden tomatoes. Also my spinach already bolted before I could eat much. I'm on the fence whether I'll plant them again next year, probably would if I had more room.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 11:10AM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

We started eating lettuce out of the garden a couple of weeks ago, and I was happy to finally be eating something homegrown again. Radishes are already bolting, and I should plant some more. Peas, what few I have, are starting to produce a few pods here and there. Tomatoes are just starting to flower, so it will be a while on those. A fresh cucumber would be an awesome addition to my homegrown salad, but no blooms on those yet.

Jeremy, I can understand where you are coming from. As far as the taste goes, there's not a lot of difference, but I know that mine is chemical free, which gives me peace of mind. Plus, lettuce seed is very cheap, and those plastic containers of salad mixes are ridiculously expensive at the grocery store. I quit growing spinach and chard, not because of the space issue, but because I have such a problem with leaf miners. I know you can use row covers to minimize them, but my veggie garden is in the front yard, so I'd rather not. One thing you might consider is growing your greens in containers. They do very well in pots, and can tolerate more shade than most veggies.

Bonnie

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 12:16PM
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jeremywildcat

Yeah that was another problem I had - not sure what kind of bugs, maybe leafminers, but something was getting all the lettuce.

Really been enjoying my snap peas, another first, and something that I'll likely plant again.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 1:58PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

On the lettuce, it's likely some type of caterpillar. The leaf miners lay eggs on the underside of the leaves, and when the eggs hatch, the larvae eat tunnels through the leaves, so they are easy to identify by the little roadmap patterns that are left behind on the leaves. They don't usually bother the lettuce though, but they love chard, spinach, and beets.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 2:19PM
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thralen

Jeremywildcat: Something you might want to consider if you want the spinach is to plant it about a month before your first frost in the fall and let it overwinter. As long as it has germinated and is up, maybe with leaves to the size of a quarter, you'll probably have 75-80% of the ones you get germinated make it through the winter and start growing much more quickly in spring. It will give you a serious head start on when you can start to pick it next spring. I use "Bloomsdale Longstanding" for overwintering. There are probably some better varieties but that one is the best I've tried so far. It worked for me last winter at 8200 ft elevation with the low temp over the winter being -13F (before wind chill, about -25F including wind chill).

Thralen

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 2:42AM
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digit(ID/WA)

I have just gotta try that spinach overwintering thing, sometime! It never even occurred to me until, I believe it was, David pointed it out here.

I can testify that lettuce won't overwinter. An out-of-the-way bed was sown with lettuce, bok choy and fun jen last year. I was planning on an October harvest but only got a little bok choy. Of the 3, only the bok choy survived a very mild winter and it bolted immediately to seed at the first sign of any warmth.

Leafy vegetables respond really well to nitrogen, Mstywoods. It might be this way: a lot of the nitrogen is in the plant's chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is mostly in the leaves and responsible for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is responsible for plant growth. That's why you can get in trouble with too much leafy growth and not enuf fruiting, if that's what you are hoping for in a plant.

Early in the season, leaf and general plant growth is what we are trying to get for every crop. Early fertilizing for everything probably always makes sense.

Of course, we don't want lettuce to fruit. But, I find that growing lots of greens improves my garden soil generally because I give them lots of organic fertilizer. ("Lots" by definition of my Organic Gardening Encyclopedia). They grow quickly and then they are gone. About half of my lettuce is gone and the sweet onions are growing into the space where those rows once were. I find that those 2, especially, are good together in a bed.

Organic fertilizers persist in the soil for more than 1 season. Even tho' this kind of fertilizer is expensive, it amounts to "money in the bank" because it stays around for awhile.

. . . just my 2¢'s worth. (And, a reminder to myself NOT to plan on cultivating every square inch of the salad garden in October. Gotta leave some room for spinach that I'll have to remember to sow about the 1st of September . . . First of September? Does that sound about right?)

Steve

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 7:54AM
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Dan Staley

I have lettuce over the winter in a cold frame and under hoops. Spinach too. It can be done here.

Dan

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 9:27AM
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easternco_gardener

Before the hailstorm trashed the place (the garden replant is finally taking root and things are growing again), my niece and I planted what I like to call 'salad bowls': two shallow plastic bowls about 20 inches across filled with a mixture of manure, moisture-retaining potting soil and a little garden dirt that hold fifteen lettuce plants each. We set the romaine lettuce plants in the center and surrounded those with butter and red-leaf lettuce in an alternating pattern. I water them every day and the plants have steadily filled in with lettuce leaves. I picked enough for two large salads (along with some basil leaves) the other night and will so so tonight as well. As long as they are kept picked and out of the worst of the heat in semi-shade of the back pergola, the lettuce doesn't bolt.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 12:30PM
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