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.
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.
Here’s what the seed packet had to say about the Cimarron: Deep 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.
The 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.
Merlot 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.
|Brune D’Hiver||Baker Creek|| |
|Cimarron Romaine||Terrior Seeds|| |
|Iceberg||Baker Creek|| |
|Merlot||Terrior Seeds|| |