Monday, June 7, 2010

Garden Buddies: The End of Lettuce Approaches

No, not a doomer prediction on the state of our nation's lettuce farming. Merely a reminder to my garden buddies to start watching for bolting on your lettuces.
Lettuces and spinach will bolt, or go to flower, once weather gets hot. Different varieties have different temps that trigger it, but once it starts the lettuce goes down hill in taste. You'll want to check out the middles of your lettuce heads, that's where the flower stalk starts. It'll be thick, with smaller leaves and will start to get some height to it. You have two options once that flower stalk starts forming.
1) pick everything and toss it in a container in your fridge to enjoy over the next week or two
2) mark a head or two for seed production and leave them in peace to flower and go to seed.

If you are going for seed production, choose a head that's well formed, with not too much harvested from it, and one that's in a good place. The lettuce head will need water and light as it forms flowers and seeds, so you don't want it to be too crowded. Lettuces will cross pollinate, but I've never had a lettuce sprout that I didn't like, so I never worry about keeping the genetics clean. The flower stalk can get as tall as 2 or 3 feet, depending on the variety. A little bamboo stake to tie the stalk to can come in handy to keep things looking tidy, but it's not required. Flowering lettuce can be quite pretty, shortly afterward the seed will start to set. Late in fall I'll remind you to gather the dried seed stalks and show you how to clean them.

Beans should be sprouted, if you have holes in your bean rows, pop another seed in the ground, if there's space where your lettuce has all been harvested, put another bean row in. Beans work great as succession crops, especially if they are bush beans.

We're coming up on the heat of the summer, do you have your mulch in place around thirsty tomatoes? Beans will thank you for some mulch too.
Potatoes needed a hilling last week for me. They need hilling with every 6 inches of growth. I hill them up with a combination of compost and top soil, use what you have, just keep those spuds out of the sunlight.
Radishes are filling up a container in my fridge.
Turnips and Kale probably need some thinning, I know it's hard to kill the little baby plants, but keep in mind how big you want the veggie to grow, and make sure they have room to get that big. If you had fantastic germination on carrots or parsnips or beets, they'll need thinning too.

No comments: