When to plant fall lettuce?

highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)July 3, 2008

I have thoroughly enjoyed having lettuce in the garden this year, and want to try even more varieties next year. The cool spring helped it last longer than I expected it to, but it is getting a bit ragged now, and some of it appears to be preparing to bolt, so I am wondering when to sow for a fall crop? I've read somewhere that it doesn't germinate well if the temps are too hot, so I'm assuming I need to start it indoors and transplant.

Anyone else planting a fall crop, and when will you sow?


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david52 Zone 6

I'm actually wondering this same thing, but on other plants. Why wait until Aug for planting spinach / peas? Why not now? I'm thinking it's night time temps, and then bugs (but thats just a guess). I will try planting some peas, beans, chard, spinach, and stuff here shortly, on the beds that didn't work out so well with the 3 frost cycles we had earlier.....

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 10:27PM
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jnfr(z5b CO)

The daytime heat tends to make them bolt pretty fast, but certainly you could try some heat-resistant spinach. I've grown chard through the summer before, but it tended to get diseased once the heat hit.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 11:54AM
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Bonnie, I replanted a bed in the veggie shade garden this week. Bok choy that was started elsewhere in the garden was used. Also going in was 3-week old lettuce started indoors.

Both look a little peaked (ËpÄ-kÉd) this may work out as this location is a good choice - near a sprinkler with continuous shade from about 10 AM on.

As you suggest, lettuce seed is supposed to fail at higher temperatures. Mid-seventies must be best (altho' lettuce can be one of our earliest Spring crops); 80's slow it and it fails in the 90's. Since the seed is planted in such a shallow drill, the soil temp must be the same (or higher!) than the temperature of the air.

The other plantings have done just fine even if this last try is ËpÄ-kÉd . . . I think if you had a good location near a bright window, now would be a good time to start your 1st planting for Fall. It could go in the garden as soon as there's any reasonable hope of a cooling, cloudy trend.


    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 9:28AM
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Lettuce is supposed to be ready in 50 or 60 days and I set out 3 week-old transplants in mid July. So, that would make them about 75 days old . . .

A few lettuce plants were harvested for sandwiches beginning about a week ago but this was the week to haul 'em off by the bag full. The plants will probably go quickly round the bend but . . . there are more plants that were set out about 10 days ago.

We aren't likely to have another 60 days for them to grow - that's stretching things even for lettuce. However, they look good - not in the least, `pÄ-kÉd. They may well grow more quickly in cool weather than hot anyway. We'll see. Note that what I am harvesting this week were grown thru the heat of the Summer in a very shady part of the garden. The next lettuce crop is out in the full sun.

I carried in a bucket full of radishes today. On another thread, my story was that the flea beetles laid waste to the Spring radish foliage - not so with this batch.

I don't remember when these were planted, sometime before that 3rd week of August storm and cool down. That might be right on the money for 29 day German Giant.

Those bok choy plants I was moving around back in July - trash, never harvested a one. I do have some real nice mustard greens and bok choy started from seed, however. They're about 2 weeks old and may be along directly. I'd think that in some of the warmer locations of RMG, it still isn't too late to sow seed for these 2.

Finally, senposai greens were something new this year. They remind me of canola which is grown around here. I got the seed from Evergreen but Fedco also carries this cross species hybrid.

Fedco says, "A spring sowing will stand the entire summer [even through drought] and well into fall before bolting." Well, they are sending up shoots to flower and we are eating those shoots as fast as they appear - like broccoli! They are a real good green and I'm looking forward to finding out what a couple of frosts do for their flavor. We aren't using them raw in salads but in very tasty stir-fries!

Senposai is taking the place of the Perpetual Spinach that I often plant and enjoy. Unfortunately, this chard/beet type green is enjoyed by the bugs just as much as by me, usually, more so.


    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 11:35PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

I decided to bump up this thread, since my lettuces are getting past their prime now. I'm planning to sow some indoors this week to get a second crop. Anyone else planting lettuce now for a fall crop?

I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the fresh salads, and I'm wishing I had thought to plant more sooner, so that I had some ready to go in the ground when the other ones get pulled.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 9:44PM
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jnfr(z5b CO)

My spinach and lettuce from spring still hasn't bolted, but once it's done I'll probably give the Earthbox a couple weeks to dry out before I refill and plant some more.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 10:41AM
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Dan Staley

I'm going to wait here until late July-ish (depending upon temps and when I get back from trip) for spinach, lettuce, other cool seasons. I'm also going to do not only a coldframe but a small hoop frame about 3w x 6'l for kale and lettuce to see how that does. Someone on this site in Utah does it (forgot who it was) so I'll try it as well. Anything to get those veggies in winter!


    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 12:00PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Dan, if I had a hoop frame, I would probably wait too, but last year, I sowed a second crop of lettuce in mid-July, and it wasn't large enough to harvest by the first hard freeze. I sowed four kinds (indoors) today - Cimmaron, Jericho, Nevada, and New Red Fire.

The grasshoppers are hitting the first batch pretty hard now, so I'll probably have to pull it soon : ( Their numbers in the empty lot next door are truly frightening, and they have already moved into the herb bed which is just across from another open field. Have I mentioned lately that I HATE grasshoppers!


    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 5:48PM
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Dan Staley


I use 3/4 black poly for hoops (found dumpster diving) and rebar to hold (but shrub prunings work too). I cover with either 6 mil plastic, a Gro-Therm when not windy from Territorial, and two different weights of row cover; Territorial has an even lighter-weight one that I'll buy next time for the flea beetles (93% transmission) that will keep your grasshoppers at bay. You can cover 2 9-10 ft rows of lettuces/kales for ~40.00, and reuse the material every year.

My lettuces (8-10 vars.) I can plant mid-Aug to harvest by mid-Nov (into Dec with hoops) and last winter the cold frame gave me greens almost all winter and had to rip out still-producing lettuces for spring planting (building much better design now). You should be 55-75 days for lettuce no problem, which gives you late July.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 7:03PM
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redley_gardener(5 - Golden CO)

Looking thru some older posts (thanks Bonnie, Dan, & Digit - you always have such great posts)!

I will be planting some lettuce, spinach, and chard in the windowsill this weekend. (Taking my big nursing state boards today and then I'm free to garden garden garden)

Any suggestions on the best types of lettuce & spinach to plant?

This question may be better starting another post, but what are the pros/cons to hoop tunnels vs. cold frames?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 7:31AM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Best wishes on your nursing exams!

Thanks for bumping this thread up! I have been meaning to plant a fall batch of lettuce for a couple of weeks now, and just keep getting busy with other things. As far as which varieties to plant, I'm just using whatever seed I have left from my spring plantings. Mostly I stick with slow bolting varieties, such as Nevada, Jericho, Simpson Elite, and New Red Fire. A new one for me this year was Freckles, and it is still not showing any signs of bolting, even though it is in full sun all day at the community garden, and the temps have been in the 95º to 100º range for a week now. I've also had good luck with Sunset, and Parris Island Cos.

Can't comment on spinach, as I have had to give up on it, due to the leaf miner problem here.

I'll let Dan comment on the hoop tunnels vs. cold frames, since all I use is a row cover.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 11:24AM
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jnfr(z5b CO)

I ordered some summer crisp lettuce seed to try in a week or so. I think I'll put some beets in too, because, well, why not?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 8:52PM
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To add a little something from 2010 . . . lettuce has just been a continual "thing" this year. Sowing seed in containers and setting out transplants has gone on without a break. So far, there has been no actual failures.

The plants don't get a lot of time. They are harvest young . . . or, lost. They are set out and grow together as "pinches" of plants -- about 6 plants together. Leaf lettuce types in a mix are grown together and often harvested together.

My Senposai was planted a little too close together. Altho' there was a nice mess or 2 of the greens - very tender - they weren't thinned enuf this year to enable them to grow to their potential. Consequently, they bolted while still small and were all pulled this week.

If you grow the critters, realize that they can take up about as much room as small cabbages. Early thinning is required if they are grown closer together.

I'm not sure what to think about summer '10 here. Even tho' there's been some 90° days and one more promised for tomorrow -- this may be one of our summers when getting to 100° doesn't happen. Certainly, spring was a good salad season but with continual transplanting, the entire growing season may turn out that way.

It's kind of too bad. Hot dry weather is when you want to enjoy a cool salad most. Oh well, it is hot and dry at the moment and there's salad!


    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 7:27PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Steve, I had intended to sow replacements, so that I would have a second batch ready to transplant when the first batch bolted, but I just forgot about it, until it was already time to rip the first batch out.

I did finally sow four kinds of lettuce Saturday in the kitchen window, and they were up by Monday. I'm hoping the cat won't eat them, before I have a chance to plant them out. I'm growing catnip in the window to distract him, but DH says I'm just training him to eat my plants ...

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 8:16PM
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jnfr(z5b CO)

Got my summer crisp seed today, a speckled red (mottistone) and a green. Will plant in a couple weeks.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 9:18PM
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