Saturday, May 1, 2010

Made in the Shade - This year's lettuce (and spinach for a salad)

Last weekend, among other things, I planted some lettuce and spinach.

The Spinach was Lavewa from Botanical Interests and the Lettuce was Burpee's "Gourmet Blend" which is Prizeleaf, Royal Oak Leaf, Salad Bowl, Red Salad Bowl and Ashley all mixed together in one packet.

Between shadows from the house and fence, and shade from several larger trees, I don't have a lot of full sun. Fortunately, that's actually a good thing for lettuce and (so I'm told) fine for spinach, too.

Last year, what looked fairly bright before the trees leafed out (doh!) and the condo people put up a fence, ended up pretty lacking in sun. After dismal results for my cantaloupes and so-so tomato growth last year, I'm focusing more on food that has a reputation for doing ok in part-shade.

I've grown loose-leaf lettuces for a number of years now and always had an easy and tasty time of it. In the past few years, I've done "Salad Bowl" variety (kept the same packet of seeds in a zip-lock bag in the freezer for a couple of years and it just kept working...). So, this year, as I passed the Burpee rounder at my local grocery store, I thought I'd branch out into a mix of lettuces--same amount of work, greater amount of pizazz--woo hoo!

And, since I like spinach--at another grocery trip, I let Rose pick the spinach of her choice and put those guys in, too. As they need to be planted 1" under, it required poking holes rather than just sprinkling, but we were up for that.

To the left is a photo of the lettuce from last year--imagine the same thing with just dirt and no plant and you'll know what things look like so far this year. I like to use tall-ish pots for the lettuce (and now spinach) to keep the rabbits out of it.

I sow the lettuce very thickly (just sprinkle the tiny seeds over the dirt in the pot)--the baby greens make a nice salad when you thin them out, so you can start eating earlier that way.

Finally, I leave you with a photo of last year's first home-grown salad (balsamic vinegar and a side of chicken, for good measure). Hoping this will be our plates again this year!


  1. Hi there. Thanks for the link! I love your blog design. As for myself I only grow a few edibles, mainly herbs, and then I have two hot pepper plants. Lettuce sounds doable and I've though about you know if squirrels eat it? I'd have to grow it in winter here I'd think so it would be prime pickings.

  2. Thanks, Jess--I love your garden and really enjoy the way you write about it.

    I've never had trouble with squirrels or anything else (except aphids--ick) eating the lettuce. I think putting them up a foot or 2 from critter level in bigger pots helps a lot (not that that would keep squirrels out, of course, but rabbits and things like that).

    To me, lettuce is one of the easiest things ever to grow--you don't even have to bury the seed, it doesn't need extra care or fertilizer, or even particularly good soil--I just sprinkle seed from the packet over the top of the dirt, keep it kind of moist and let it do it's thing!

    I hope it works out for you--good luck if you try it!