Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lettuce Season

Kaye has noticed that we have sold 2 week’s worth of Lettuce just this week. I’m actually not that surprised, despite the hotter than usual weather. Lettuce appears to have a season of it’s own, tucked neatly between Tomatoes and Brassicas.
The Tomato season reminds me of the footy season or the Spring racing carnival; it all builds to a crescendo at cup week end, then fades to nothing almost immediately. It doesn’t have to be this way! I have commercial Tomato orders through until the first week in January.
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I really wanted to mention Lettuce. I read an article (long since lost) that suggested Lettuce would go out of favour because it has no nutritional value and needs a lot of water to grow. I am yet to see any sign of this, in fact I think the opposite is happening.
The most popular Lettuces for home gardeners are the loose leaf or open headed types, particularly the mixes ‘Salad mix’, ‘Baby Combo’ and ‘Mignonette mix’. Generally these are much easier to grow than the Iceberg types and impatient gardeners can start picking within a couple of weeks of planting, especially at this time of year when they are growing really quickly.
If you’re wondering Salad mix is a full mix of up to 10 lettuce types including Iceberg and Cos; Baby Combo only has picking Lettuces in the mix, this makes it ideal for growing in containers because the different plants are all matched well for size.
Mignonette is a French term meaning dainty. These Lettuces are somewhat dainty, but I wouldn’t call them small. I note that slugs apparently prefer the green over the brown, bit like my kids really. Brown & red Lettuces tend to be more bitter which I like but it needs to be balanced with other flavours.
Growing quality Iceberg and Cos Lettuce is one of the signs of a skilled and very dedicated gardener. Those tight heads require plenty of fertilizer and water. Of course if you get it right they look and taste fantastic. All Lettuces require a sunny spot with well prepared soil or quality potting mix. I think the only reason loose leafed Lettuces are easier to grow is we clean and open them up as we pick fresh leaves. The heading types become a bit of a target for slugs and fungi particularly as the approach maturity.
If you have any Lettuce growing tips for me, please let me know I’d love to pass them around.
By the way, a good Powdery mildew control?
1 part full cream milk to 8-10 parts water, I’m guessing applied as a spray.
Thanks Jerry and Lorraine.

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