Lettuce Be Thankful for Lettuce

We’ve grown lots of different types of lettuce over the years, in the spring and in the fall. Most of the varieties we’ve planted in the past have, for a variety of reasons, fallen by the wayside. Now we only grow lettuce in the spring and we only grow green romaine (from transplants) and a salad mix (from seed).

But it looks like that is going to change.

We installed our hoop house in mid-October, a couple of months earlier than anticipated. The site we picked out for it happened to be where we grew sweet potatoes this year–the last crop we harvest. It also happens to be some of our most difficult soil to work–red clay.

So there was no time to do much soil prep (not much that could be done, in any event) before the hoop house went up.

It’s new to us and I had no idea what to plant in it. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I  broke up the crusty clay with a shuffle hoe, shoveled in a thin layer of leaf compost, and broadcast some extra seed we had left over from earlier in the year. On October 29. If nothing grew I figured we wouldn’t have lost anything–spring was when we expected to begin using the house anyway.

Our favorite lettuce mix is called All Star, from Johnny’s. It’s a mix of lettuces, green and red, intended to be planted thick and cut while little. We had some of that seed left, so I tossed it onto one of the improvised beds and waited to see what would happen.

And guess what? Shut my mouth if we didn’t get ourselves a fine crop of baby lettuce.

IMG_3015.JPG 

img_3019

 
We’ve been eating it and sharing it with our farmer’s market customers for months now. It grows slowly this time of year, and so far (despite a crazy warm/hot winter) it hasn’t bolted.

I’m still not sure what all we’ll be doing in the hoop house next winter, but I’d say the odds are very good that overwintering lettuce will be one of them.