Last week a friend mentioned that she had a red romaine as her fall planted lettuce and it was getting pretty big. She and her husband enjoy kale more than lettuce during the winter, so she’s not really concerned about having that lettuce into Spring.
But her comment reminded me that it might help TMG readers who are lettuce lovers like me, to post a reminder about how to make sure to have a continual supply into spring.
Lettuce in the Garden Now
I’m enjoying lettuce from the garden a few weeks earlier this year because of the cooler temperatures this August. You may recall that my first planting disappeared after two days. Allowing the seedlings in the second planting to get bigger, was my key to success and those transplants are now thriving.
Varieties for Fall
Varieties currently in the garden are Black Seeded Simpson and Sierra Batavia (my favorite). Both are doing very well.
I experimented with another of my favorites – Reine des Glaces – to see how it’d do in fall. A hard rain wiped out most of the 2 inch seedlings that were ready for transplanting. The couple of pieces in the garden are just sitting there.
Will Covering Make Lettuce Last All Winter?
If you’re new to gardening and/or lettuce it might be easy to think that you can just place row cover fabric or a hoop tunnel over any variety of lettuce in zones with cold winters and keep it going through Spring. Unfortunately, that outcome would probably be an exception rather than the rule.
As beautiful and delicious as Sierra Batavia is in the fall, it doesn’t like the extreme cold. I had mine under two coverings last winter and the minute the temperatures dropped it declined quickly. A few pieces of the Black Seeded Simpson made it through nicely, but most didn’t.
What to Do? – Succession Planting and Winter Varieties are the Keys
Although there are several varieties that are touted to do well (with protection) through the winter, I’ve found that Winter Density (a romaine) is THE one that holds up the best in my garden.
But variety alone is not enough. Succession Planting every two weeks or so will guarantee that you have lettuce in all stages and will be able to enjoy it through spring while your spring planted lettuce is starting.
For example: My third planting of lettuce – which was mostly Winter Density – will go in the garden Monday. I’ll start more this week and again before October ends. If the weather allows I’ll start some the first part of November.
Why not review the 3 posts below for even more information. (Two of them have audio, so you can listen rather than read if want to.)
In many areas (like here in zone 7) you still have time to put more lettuce in the garden. Come January, February, March and April you’ll be glad you made the extra effort.
Plant in the Fall – Harvest for 3 Seasons
Lettuce – Greens – Will Fall plantings Carry You Through Summer and Fall (This post has audio)
Winter Gardening – Growing Lettuce – 3 Tips (This post has audio.)
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