|Four generations of lettuce...|
These varieties are looseleaf lettuces, which are harvested by picking off only a few leaves at a time off of each plant. The picture at the top is of the three lettuce plants I just picked the outer leaves off of. As you can see, they still look great and will continue growing new leaves in until the weather gets too hot and they "bolt," aka- start flowering. The reds seem to do better in direct sun, and look gorgeous next to the bright green. I love the variety in this mixed looseleaf lettuce seed I bought.
I've been phasing my lettuce plantings so I've got several generations of lettuces growing at this point. I think once the current 3 day old seedlings mature, that'll be the last batch for spring. After that I'll be starting the bean and cucumber crops!
|The newest baby lettuces|
Lettuce grows best in cool to moderately warm weather. On nights under around 27F I brought all of my looseleaf lettuces inside. (Kale stayed out until 18F). Usually, though, the nights were mild enough that I could just leaf them out there. Haha...leaf.
|Kale is in no danger from light frost...just from squirrels! |
The one in the middle got damaged by a squirrel despite the cage. :(
Lettuces and other cold-weather crops have the ability to survive because they can increase the amount of sugars they produce in their leaf cells. Normally plants get frostbite when the water inside their cells bursts the cell walls. That's why they go all mushy. Cold tolerant plants use sugar as an antifreeze, to lower the freezing temperature of the liquid in their cells. That's why lettuce and kale taste sweeter if grown in cold weather!
|Look at that colorful bowl of sweet, sweet salad greens. Mmmm.|
I hope to start getting most of my salad greens from my garden instead of the grocery store in the next few weeks as the plants all start to mature. Hooray growing food! :D