Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lettuce Transition

This morning's harvest of lettuce marks a transition from the last fading remnants of our glorious spring salads -- the tall narrow speckled leaves of Forellenschluss -- and the first picking of summer greens -- the full ruffled leaves of Red Sails. Red Sails seedlings were planted out May 8, with an estimated Days to Maturity of six to seven weeks. Since the first Red Sails have reached harbor on June 6, less than a month later, the DTM most likely should be calculated from when the seeds went into the pots at Gaddis Nursery, not from when the seedlings went into the ground in our backyard.

Regardless of the details, it looks like we will not be suffering a Lettuce Gap and will not be having withdrawal symptoms due to salad deprivation.

There are still a few stalks of bolting Forellenschluss that can be gleaned for enough leaves to tide us over the next couple of weeks.

However, once all the stalks start forming buds it's all over but the seed saving.

Fortunately, there are new plantings coming along under a couple of shade houses made of old lace curtains draped over some re-purposed tomato supports.

In one shade house, The Red Sails is farthest progressed. The Salad Bowl seedlings from Sweetwater Nursery went into the ground on May 29 so it will be awhile before I can start plucking one or two tender leaves from each plant.

Eventually, if all goes well, there will also be some Raddicio to add to the salad mix. The seedlings from Sweetwater Nursery are still in their planter pots, waiting for some room to open up in one of the beds.

Already nestled into the second shade house are Endive seedlings, also from Sweetwater, planted on May 29.

When the plants fill out, we should have a really nice mix of sweet and tangy greens to keep us in our accustomed almost-daily salads through the warm months. This may seem like good planning but it's really just happenstance: I saw several plastic six packs of lettuce seedlings hidden in a corner of the display of summer plants at Whole Foods and bought them all.

We have gotten so used to eating our own lettuce that it seems worth the effort to find out if it can be a year-round experience.

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