Friday, June 02, 2006

let us enjoi summer salad

For a long time, I shied away from growing lettuce. I grew up eating grocery store head lettuces like Iceberg. They are tough to grow here in the southern U.S. Several years ago I tried growing leaf lettuce and had more success. Of course the chickens have to be kept out of the garden while the young lettuce sprouts begin to grow. The slugs must be kept at bay by putting out an old Tupperware container of beer (party animals at heart). A simple cold frame structure made from old salvage windows lets me start seeds early. Last year we grew lettuce in the winter. But the ultimate limitation on growing lettuce still remains- hot summers! As it gets warm, lettuce becomes bitter and bolts (which means quickly goes to seed). We’ve had a few weeks of high temperatures in the 80’s and most of my lettuce is on the way out. However, one variety is doing just fine.

‘Bronze Arrow’ lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is a new addition to my garden this year. I am here to rave about it. I grew this lettuce from seed. Some of them were started directly in the ground; while others were started indoors and moved. Many varieties are tough to transplant. This is one is easy. This heirloom grows quickly and produces oak-shaped leaves of green and red. The outer leaves can be removed for salads leaving the plant to re-grow and produce more leaves. The flavor is great. The best part though is that it isn’t bolting. While my others lettuce varieties are calling it quits, ‘Bronze Arrow’ is still going strong. I highly recommend this lettuce for those of you looking to extend your garden salad season but also for those of you who unfamiliar with growing lettuce and who’d like to try. Best of luck with this one. You won’t need it.

Seed Sources:
Seeds of Change
Fedco Seeds

Bountiful Gardens
Seed Savers Exchange

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Rare Seeds

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