Sunday, September 18, 2016

Just Do It

Whenever I'm hemming and hawing over something I can't decide on I take a page out of the Nike playbook and tell myself "Just Do It".  It has to be done, so let's get it over with.  And with that, the gorgeous mega-zucchini which produced dozens of squash came out to make way for the winter lettuce.

There is a wheel barrow under there somewhere
Last year, thanks to a mild winter, we were eating our own lettuce on Dec 21st. It never froze, it just stopped growing and we ate it down to the nub.

So winter lettuce is an important part of my gardening year.  Important enough to make me pull a mega-zucchini.  But not to worry, I still have zucchini plants of lesser merit still producing so it is not the end of the zucchini.

The winter lettuce bed is right next to the garden shed, almost within reach of the patio light.  This is a strategic spot because in Nov/Dec I will be picking lettuce in the dark, in the rain, in wind that will blow the lettuce leaves right out of my bowl, while holding a flash light.

The little hoop house gets a 26* frost cover.  Things I've learned about growing winter lettuce under a frost cover

  1. Don't bother planting where you can't reach.  I did put some extra plants out of the pots and an earlier planting in the back where it will be hard to reach.  Those are for days when I really want lettuce and it's not dark and raining and blowing.
  2. Put your favorite variety in the center because the ones on the edge will be the first to go

Probably some of you are asking why I don't use my cold frame for winter lettuce.  Well, the cold frame sits on patio blocks not soil so I would have to plant into planters.  The lid is a big PITA to manage in the wind and usually the cold frame is full of over wintering plants like vinca, potted mints and stray perennials.

2015 the lettuce babies tucked into their little greenhouse
 The weather is cooperating this week and after babying them through yesterday watering every few hours, today was overcast and rainy and I came out this morning to 18 perky transplants

Sept 20 2014
The Strawberry bed takes a break for lettuce
Odds are we will be eating fresh lettuce through November if not December.  This will be the 6th year in a row we have had winter lettuce.

2011 "Iceberg" lettuce
Lettuce can actually take quite cold temperatures.  It will continue to grow in  40*-50* temperatures and will even take a little snow.  We do have a few lettuce plants from August plantings to supplement our salads but we are looking forward to unlimited salads.

As for the zucchini, I have half a dozen here waiting to be cooked, and one stuffed with Italian sausage waiting to go in the oven for supper.  The mega-zucchini is on the compost pile and still not wilted.  Un-gardening has begun.

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