Monday, December 27, 2010

Crop Review 2010 – Lettuce


 image DSC_2146_5551    

Photo top :  September 2010.  Photo bottom:  December 2010.


This fall, a salad bed was planted using 4 different varieties of lettuce, 3 different varieties of onions, 2 different varieties of radishes, and 1 variety of beets (no partridge in a pear tree here!).  The south end of the bed has strawberries growing.  Ajax loves strawberries.  He is currently being trained to not give in to his desires.  This bed is protected from freezing temperatures thanks to the genius planning of Farmer MacGregor.  The 3 raised stakes that look like parallel balance beams make up the frame for which plastic sheeting to be draped over.  That forms a miniature hot house that can be quickly erected whenever the chance of a frost or freeze is in the forecast.  The storm predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday may bring colder temperatures and the salad bed will take cover.

All the lettuce has performed beautifully.  Most all the seeds germinated easily in an average of 8 days.  Once the rainy weather came, no irrigation was needed but until then the drip lines were used to keep the soil moist – not wet.


DSC_2148_5553 Brune D’Hiver came with this description on the seed packet:  Compact, hardy, French butterhead-type lettuce that was introduced in 1855.  Crunchy green leaves are blushed in reddish-brown color.  Plants require little space when growing and are perfect for fall plantings.  Hard to find in America.  I can add that the size of the leaves make this an ideal lettuce for sandwiches.  In fact, if you are concerned about carbs, these leaves could easily replace the bread of a sandwich.


DSC_2149_5554Here’s what the seed packet had to say about the CimarronDeep red romaine, 10-12” tall with a crisp, creamy yellow-bronze center, tender texture.  Impervious to bolting.  This romaine is much more tender than the grocery store variety.  These also are great for wraps if you’re looking for something to replace bread.

DSC_2147_5552The Iceberg was a bit slow; but once the basil was pruned to allow maximum sunlight, the growth rate kicked into high gear.  The Iceberg gets a lower rating because the seeds were slower to germinate and not all the seeds germinated.  Also, the Iceberg is not forming in the typical tight head of lettuce I expected.  It resembles loose, green leaf lettuce; but it’s still good.  The rating may be a bit harsh.  It’s based on the slow to no germination and the fact the lettuce isn’t a tight head lettuce.  Otherwise it’s fine.


DSC_2151_5556Merlot has got to be the prettiest of the 4 varieties planted this year.  Terrior/Underwood Gardens describes this lettuce:  Absolutely gorgeous, frilled leaves of the richest, dark wine-red.  Smooth, bull bodied flavor.  This is really a stunning addition to a salad for its good looks and good taste.


I’m going to take advantage of this great asset to the garden as long as possible.  The dry heat will be here before I know it, and homegrown lettuce will give way to grocery store purchases of Salinas grown greens.  Here’s my rating of the lettuces grown this year.  Remember, 5 is best – 0 is worst.



Seed Co.


Brune D’Hiver Baker Creek


Cimarron Romaine Terrior Seeds


Iceberg Baker Creek


Merlot Terrior Seeds



Green Zebra Market Garden said...

I got really excited when i saw those parallel beams over your lettuce. I thought for a second maybe you were using LED strip lights over your crop (I'm doing research on the use of LEDs for greenhouse floriculture).

Anyways, that's a good idea for keeping the plastic sheeting up.

Aunt Snow said...

All look wonderful and so fresh and tasty!

I am not up to the challenge of a vegetable garden like yours but I have to say, we harvested the Swiss chard I was growing in a pot on the deck for our Christmas dinner. It was fantastic! I selectively cut it, so more leaves should come while the days are still short.

Maybe I'll try some lettuces in pots, too.

Maureen said...

Nice review of your lettuce crop....lovely photos too! Ours is quite a bit behind yours, had some trouble with seeds germinating (and the tree over the bed lost it's leaves rather slowly:) but we are finally eating greens from the garden on a regular basis. I may try Iceberg next year; I like that it doesn't form tight heads....and Brune D'Hiver is one of our favorites!


*Green - Sorry. We only use good old sunlight here in the garden. There's more than plenty.

*Aunt - Give lettuce a try. I was surprised at how easily the seeds germinated. It's a very inexpensive experiment.

*Maureen - Glad you're in the green. I like Brune D'Hiver as well. My Bakersfield accent butchers the French name; so I simply call it my French lettuce.