I've got a riddle for you? What vegetable was eaten by Persian kings, was once considered a weed and is second only to potatoes in consumption in this country? The answer is lettuce.
May is National Salad Month, so let's talk about lettuce. As we gear up for Memorial Day picnics, chances are salads will be part of the menu.
Growing your own lettuce couldn't be easier. Either from seed or transplants, plant now in a raised bed, container, window box, old shoe…you get the idea. All you need is some soil, good water drainage and moisture. I like the different colored heirloom varieties such as Speckled Trout, Deer Tongue, and Rouge D'hiver. These have flashy colors and unique shapes.
Plant loose leaf varieties, such as Black Seeded Simpson and Romaine, and harvest the outer leaves as you need them. The main head will keep growing. The key to continual lettuce harvests all summer is to plant small batches every 2 weeks right until fall. Remove old plants when they bolt. When the days get warmer, look for heat tolerant varieties such as Red Cross. Keep the seed bed well watered, or better yet, start seeds on a deck or patio and then transplant them into the garden.
Fertilize with fish emulsion and keep the patch well-watered and weeded. You can start harvesting leaves at any time. Keep slugs at bay by growing lettuce in containers with copper tape wrapped around the top edge and by using beer traps in the garden. Or mulch lettuce with sheep's wool to keep slugs and snails away.