Saturday, September 8, 2018

Plant lettuce seed now for fall and winter harvests

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Plant a variety of lettuce types now via seeds for harvests through fall and winter!  Lettuce enjoys cool temperatures and gets even sweeter as the temps dip.

The challenge to starting lettuce from seed this time of year is that it can be so hot.  The seeds will not germinate well in ground temps above 70 degrees F.  

There are a couple of options for summer time seeding.  You can grow in shade, cover with a shade cloth or start your seedlings indoors and transplant outdoors.

I like to start in flats in the shade, close to the watering can on the east side of the house.  On a covered patio, porch or deck is an ideal place to start seeds.  The seedlings will be up in 7 days if kept well watered.  I let them grow until they have the first set of true leaves and are about 2” tall.  I then transplant them into their permanent home, keeping them well watered for another couple of weeks.

You can just plant a couple of seeds in re-used 6 packs so you can plant it all in the garden, plant several in a pot and then just transplant into the garden or final pot.  My personal favorite is sowing seeds into my self-watering Earthboxes that I cover later in the season with a portable greenhouse to keep the greens going all winter.  How to extend the garden season

If you want to direct seed in your flower bed, dig a shallow trench about a half inch deep, fill with potting soil, seed, pat down, then cover lightly with more potting soil.  Water well with a gentle stream of water so you don’t wash the seed away.  I use a rain head on my watering can.

Plant a few seeds each day for the next couple of weeks to get a succession of plants for on-going harvests.  This time of year, look for types that are the most cold hardy to last the longest into winter.  Look for varieties marketed as: fast-maturing, short and compact, winter-hardy, frost tolerant, overwintering, for every season, year-round, remarkably cold hardy, etc.  

A few varieties to try are Winter density, Rouge d’Hiver, No Name Red Leaf, Arctic King, Continuity, Salad Bowl, Mottistone.

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