Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Dreaded Bolt.

The wide swings and temperature have arrived in New England.  These swings along with the accompanying heat wave cause much stress to the vegetable garden.  The tomatoes in bloom this week will likely not set, and the lettuce and greens will likely bolt.  Not so great news all around.

This year I have two beds under shade cloth, and I have been watering the lettuce daily.  So far there are no flower/seed stalks going up, but I have not been able to sample the lettuce to see if the bitterness has increased.  Brassicas and cilantro have however bolted under the cloth.

The 'Slobolt' lettuce seed I ordered has offered zero germination so I can't count on that one getting me through the summer.  I do have other supposed heat tolerant mixes to sow for summer and fall cutting as soon as I make some room.  It seems as though starting the seedlings under fewer hours of light may lengthen the number of days until bolting occurs.  (Just how does one accomplish this without grow lights in the basement though?)  Maybe sow them in trays or lettuce boxes on a shady porch?

Interestingly enough I have noticed another benefit from using shade cloth this year, it seems to be keeping the little green worms of my asian greens and mesclun mix.  From now on I will keep shade cloth over those greens even in cooler weather.

So here is my question for all of you, what varieties of lettuce and or greens do find to be tolerant of longer days, higher temperatures, and large fluctuations?  Do you have any tricks that seem to help prolong your harvest season?


Annie's Granny said...

I looked back through my notes, and in 2009 I grew lettuce all summer under a sheet of lattice for dappled shade. It was in a cut-an-come-again garden, closely spaced, and a mixture of several varieties. I did make note of harvests of romaine, besides the mix. In 2010 it looks like the lettuce was pretty abundant until August, when it slowed down to about 6 oz. per week. Looking back at the harvest photos in July, when we often get into the high 90s-100, I see nice heads of Red Sails. So I'd say Red Sails is a good variety for summer.

Thomas said...

Some one mentioned that my Lolla Rossa lettuce was a good heat tolerate variety. From my own observation, it holds up really well in the mid-day sun and is still tasting good. I have a couple varieties from MAC that were developed by the University of Hawaii, one of which is Manoa. It did well last summer but started to bolt in August as the days grew shorter.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help!

GrafixMuse said...

I'll be watching this thread for some ideas as well. I hate having tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers for a salad, but no lettuce.

Kelly said...

Good stuff everyone.

My first year gardening the Red Sails went quite the distance before bolting. It did become bitter, but I still found it edible/enjoyable. I think the shade can make a big difference AG.

I will try and keep an eye to see which varieties bolt first in my garden this year GM. Maybe I will try and nibble some of the leaves I have stashed in the fridge, I am dying to see how things are holding up in this heat!

Erin said...

I'm still figuring it all out, but this year I'm actually taking notes LOL. My Olympia Spinach continued to produce for several weeks after temps went into the 90's so that's better than others I've tried. I find that Mizuna will grow throughout the season and germinate well when sowed in place. I just sowed Bronze Mignonette under the "lettuce house" and it germinated in 2 days, not bad! Spicy Mix Mesclun has germinated also, and it's 98 today. I find that if it germinates in place in the beds I will usually get lettuce from the plant, if I have to sow it elsewhere and transplant, it won't work, but then again it's way hotter and more humid here. good luck! I know my notes will be more helpful in July & August, we'll see then how good those varieties are LOL

elizabeth said...

If you move to Montana, you can have any lettuce you want all summer long, but its a trade-off as you can't have warm weather crops without a greenhouse. Have you tried deer tongue?

Kelly said...

I have not, is it a favorite of yours?

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