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Starting Lettuce in Hot Weather
By Bountiful Gardens Staff

Lettuce SeedlingsMature LettuceWith a little planning, lettuce can grow into the summer.
PHOTO CREDIT: Bountiful Gardens Staff

Lettuce is frequently considered a spring-time plant, but with a little care and effort, you can have lettuce late in the season as well. For best results, follow these steps.

  1. Choose bolt-resistant varieties such as those offered by Bountiful Gardens in their Summer Salad Collection and Bolt-Resistant Mix.

  2. Put the seed in a dry, closed jar in the refrigerator for a few days. Most lettuce varieties do not like to sprout if the seeds have been at temperatures above 85°F. The refrigerator makes them think they've been through the winter. They think it's spring when you take them out, and they sprout readily.

  3. Choose a spot with shade during the hottest time of day—11 am to 4 or 5 pm. Other crops can make shade—a trellis of beans, for example, or plant on the east side of your house. Setting up shade cloth is another option for keeping the lettuce out of the heat as it gets established. If you don't have a piece of ground that will work for you, consider using containers and keep them in a semi-shaded place. Later, you can plant them in the garden in the fall.

  4. Plant in succession, a few every week or two rather than all at once. This will give you a longer harvest period as plants mature over time.

  5. Plant in the evening, and water well.

  6. Harvest the lettuce while still young and tender, dunk it in cold water, wrap it in cloth and chill in the refrigerator. Or harvest a few leaves at a time, treating the harvested leaves the same way. Maximum regrowth will occur if you leave six center leaves on the plant and take the rest of the outer leaves. If you are collecting leaves rather than whole plants and want fast regrowth, top-dress with compost, and water well, or water with compost tea.

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