Poof into seed
I went a little crazy with the lettuces this year. Actually, I simply committed the sin of underestimating germination, and then I didn’t have the heart to kill all those cute little babies. So we had lettuce coming out our ears. Good thing, though: I was quite popular for a while, giving a lot away. I also used them in my newly-dug flower beds, planted en masse for color.
There’s always the mesclun mixes, of course, that are broadcast on the ground or in transplant flats. These do well, and I am mostly able to identify weed from seed when the plants are fairly young. But this year, in the unheated garage, I started a flat of heading plants. They were great. So tasty.
Focea green butterhead (Johnny’s Selected Seeds, ’06). Cos type, quite bright green.
Fireball red butterhead (Johnny’s, ’06). More spreading than Focea, and quite burgundy to start, but more mottled red when it heads up.
Freckles romaine (Johnny’s, ’06). Upright romaine, if you let it get that tall. Beautiful red-spotted leaves. Did not get bitter.
These are the other cold-season salad-type things I planted this year:
Claytonia (Johnny’s, ’06)
Dutch corn salad (Baker Creek, ’06)
Giant Noble spinach (Baker Creek ’05)
The first two were planted in one flat inside a plastic tub with a clear lid. I set it outside in February, in an area that got maybe one hour of sun a day. This worked. Claytonia, though, hates being transplanted. The spinach was fall-planted under straw (successful!) and also planted in the flat with the lettuce. I planted the tiny seedlings out much sooner than the lettuce and put a row cover over the top. I don’t know; I never have complete success with spinach; it never gets very big before it bolts. Such is the nature of the beast, I guess.
Next year I will do the same in-the-garage trick. I always like oak-leaf and deer tongue lettuces, and never seem to have enough in the mesclun mixes, so I will probably get more of that kind of seed next year.
Oh, and one other thing: once the plants start to shoot into seed, you can hack off all but the bottom two inches of the plant and it will put out more baby leaves. They won’t be bitter, but they’ll be tougher than those early baby plants. If you do let them go to seed, then save the seeds! YUM.
I will try your early spring planting methods. It seems like the span between good lettuce and bolting is altogether too short.
Hey cool! It’s letting me post!