Lettuce in Tucson? In the Summer? Read On!


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I could not let this great article pass us by without sharing it with you, reprinted here with permission

Growing Summer Lettuce in Tucson
By David W. Mount
Master Gardener of the The University of Arizona, Pima County Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program

Summer Lettuce in Window Boxes
  • David Mount, Master Gardener
  • Summer Lettuce in Window Boxes

In our home garden, we usually grow many varieties of lettuce planted at intervals during the winter months to assure a continuous supply. Compared to store-purchased lettuce, our garden lettuce is much more tender and fresh, and it was always difficult to make the switch to the store lettuce as the summer approached. This summer, I decided to try an experiment, and see if we could grow lettuce in the summer in Tucson, and I am pleased to report success. This project was not a lot of work to set up and maintain and it was nice to come home from vacation to our own fresh lettuce. Here are the steps that were followed.

1. I checked on the web to see if there are varieties of lettuce developed for summer planting, and discovered 2 sources — one was a “summer mix” and a “heatwave blend” from the Cook’s Garden, Pennsylvania and the second was two varieties from the Territorial Seed Company, Oregon — one was “Slobolt,” a delicious loose leaf lettuce and “Jericho”, a Romaine-type developed in Israel. I recommend trying all of these seeds, all of which can be purchased on the supplier web sites. The seeds were stored in a zip-lock bag in the fridge to keep a good germination rate.

2. I wanted a convenient way to keep planting and harvesting, so I opted for plastic window boxes on a raised table at waist height (see picture above). This setup provided lettuce for 2 of us and occasional guests.

3. I figured the soil should be kept moist but also drain well, so I chose a good potting soil but also added about ┬╝ as much pumice for drainage and to avoid salt buildup.

4. The plants were partially but not completely shaded from the sun. I chose a well-lit but protected area and placed 50%-70% shade cloth above the plants at a convenient height for underneath access. 5. Drip tubing irrigation was installed with good coverage of the whole surface area with daily watering. The flow was reduced enough to assure thorough wetting without too much drainage.

6. Seeds were planted at a shallow depth at 1-2 week intervals, leaving free areas for later planting. Seeds sprouted in only a few days in the hot weather and the plants grew rapidly.

7. Thinning is often needed and the removed plants can be used like sprouts.

8. Plants were watered with diluted 20-20-20 fertilizer as recommended on the package at about 2 week intervals.

Stay tuned for the next gardening tip. I will include information from David on harvesting your lettuce.

Have a question? Email Marylee.

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