A Tramp in the (Organic) Garden

Seeds, Smack Talk and Assorted Gardening Madness in South Pasadena, Los Angeles

Friday, June 23, 2006

Growing Lettuce in So. Cali.

Growing lettuce, I'm convinced, is absolutely one of the purest things you can do in life. The satisfaction you reap from sowing a lettuce seed and ending up with a bowlful of the most delicious goodness ever is so freaking amazing. I used to just broadcast seed all over the ground and harvest the new baby lettuce leaves as they grew, but this last winter I planted pony packs with one seed per cell and ended up with some amazing heads of lettuce. I was so proud of myself, I have to say....lettuce is great for the ego.....I grew MERVEILLE DE QUATRE SAISONS and a spotted variety called SPECKLES, which I think is really a butterhead also known as BUNTE FORELLENSCHLUSS. We also grew some LOLLA ROSSA and some corn mache from some seeds I smuggled in from Switzerland.

Here's some pics of the early winter seedlings and here's a pic of my cute hubby doing a nighttime harvest for dinner. We have this flashlight you strap onto your head and it's perfect for nighttime dinner harvests. Also some more MERVEILLE DE QUATRE SAISONS that I planted from seed. (I planted it between 2 tomato plants- the shade of the tomato plants will provide some protection later on in the summer.) Notice how the edges of the leaves are a bit gnawed and bedraggled.

Be aware, though, that in southern cali, lettuce is typically a winter grown vegetable! There are some varieties that fare well in the summer heat, though most would be prone to bolting into flower much more quickly than in winter. If you live near the beach or have that coastal influence you have a better chance with summer lettuce. If you are inland give it some shade or a little protection from the sun. Treat it nicely- plenty of water and no plant stress. And if you do grow some bitter lettuce, before you eat it, soak it in water for a bit- you'll find that this reduces the bitter flavor and makes lettuce crisp and palatable once more. Fo shizzle!

I'm planting some lettuces during the summer and will give you my feedback. I got most of them from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds . This place is in the Ozarks, and their tagline is "preserving our ethnic heritage", which as a café con leche, half Mexicana/half white girl makes me nervous a little bit (what's that slogan about anyway) , but they're totally cool and really all about keeping seed strains clean, open-pollinated, etc. We need more of that attitude. I got CIMARRON, MASCARA, MIGNONETTE BRONZE. AND FORELLENSCHLUSS. I just planted MIGNONETTTE BRONZE and CIMARRON for the summer, and I have a few heads of MERVEILLE DE QUATRE SAISONS on their way. CIMARRON is a romaine type lettuce which resists bolting- and it's from the 1800's! What a way to re-connect with history. Think Vive Le Revolution! MIGNONETTE BRONZE is great for tropical hot weather and was introduced in 1898. I will let you know how these work out.

This fall I want to plant lettuce sampler pony packs and give them away to my peeps. Lettuce for the world!


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