Summer Lettuce

Summer Lettuce: What Lettuce Grows Well in Summer?

Lettuce is a popular leafy green that is often associated with cooler weather gardening. However, many gardeners are eager to enjoy fresh, homegrown lettuce throughout the summer months as well. While some lettuce varieties may struggle in the heat, there are several heat-tolerant options that can thrive even during the hottest days of summer. In this article, we will explore the different types of lettuce that grow well in summer, tips for growing summer lettuce, and how to harvest and store your summer lettuce crop.

Heat-Tolerant Lettuce Varieties

When it comes to growing lettuce in the summer, choosing heat-tolerant varieties is essential. These types of lettuce are less likely to bolt (produce flowers and seeds) and become bitter in the heat. Some excellent summer lettuce varieties include:

Batavian Lettuce

Also known as Summer Crisp, Batavian lettuce is known for its large, crunchy leaves and excellent heat tolerance. This type of lettuce forms a loose head and comes in both green and red varieties. Some popular Batavian cultivars include ‘Nevada’, ‘Sierra’, and ‘Muir’.

Romaine Lettuce

Romaine lettuce, also known as Cos lettuce, is a classic choice for Caesar salads and has a reputation for being more heat-tolerant than other lettuce types. Romaine lettuce forms an upright head with elongated, slightly crunchy leaves. Some heat-tolerant romaine cultivars include ‘Jericho’, ‘Coastal Star’, and ‘Green Towers’.

Oakleaf Lettuce

Oakleaf lettuce is a type of loose-leaf lettuce known for its distinct, lobed leaves that resemble the shape of an oak tree leaf. This lettuce variety is slow to bolt and comes in both green and red varieties. Some heat-tolerant oakleaf cultivars include ‘Oscarde’, ‘Bronze Guard’, and ‘Red Sails’.

Butterhead Lettuce

Butterhead lettuce, also known as Boston or Bibb lettuce, is prized for its tender, buttery leaves that form a loose, round head. While not as heat-tolerant as some other varieties, there are cultivars that can withstand summer temperatures. Some heat-tolerant butterhead cultivars include ‘Buttercrunch’, ‘Adriana’, and ‘Skyphos’.

Tips for Growing Summer Lettuce

To successfully grow lettuce in the summer, it’s essential to follow some key gardening practices that will help your plants withstand the heat and produce a bountiful harvest.

Choose the Right Planting Time

Planting your summer lettuce at the right time is crucial to ensure that it has the best chance to thrive in the heat. Start your lettuce seeds indoors or in a shaded area about 4-6 weeks before you plan to transplant them into the garden. This will give your lettuce plants a head start and help them establish a strong root system before the hottest days of summer arrive.

Provide Adequate Shade

Lettuce plants prefer cooler temperatures and can become stressed and bitter in direct sunlight during the summer months. To protect your lettuce from the heat, provide some shade by planting taller crops nearby, such as tomatoes or pole beans, to cast shade on your lettuce plants. Alternatively, you can use shade cloth or a shade sail to create a cooler microclimate for your lettuce.

Keep the Soil Moist

Consistent soil moisture is essential for growing healthy, tender lettuce. In the summer, the soil can dry out quickly, so it’s crucial to monitor the moisture levels and water your lettuce plants as needed. A drip irrigation system or soaker hoses can be an efficient way to provide consistent moisture to your lettuce plants without wetting the leaves, which can lead to disease issues.

Mulch to Conserve Moisture and Regulate Soil Temperature

Applying a layer of organic mulch around your lettuce plants can help to conserve soil moisture and regulate soil temperature. Mulch materials like straw, grass clippings, or shredded leaves can be used to create a 2-3 inch layer around your lettuce plants, ensuring that you keep the mulch away from the base of the plants to prevent rot.

Succession Planting for a Continuous Harvest

To enjoy a continuous supply of fresh lettuce throughout the summer, practice succession planting. Sow new seeds or transplant seedlings every 2-3 weeks to ensure that you always have lettuce plants at different stages of growth. This will allow you to harvest lettuce continuously as older plants begin to bolt or decline in quality.

Harvesting and Storing Summer Lettuce

When it comes to harvesting your summer lettuce, it’s essential to pick the leaves at the right time to ensure the best flavor and texture. Here are some tips for harvesting and storing your summer lettuce crop:

  • Harvest lettuce in the morning, when the leaves are crisp and full of moisture.
  • For loose-leaf varieties, you can harvest individual leaves or cut the entire plant about an inch above the soil line, allowing it to regrow for a second harvest.
  • For head-forming varieties, harvest the entire head when it has reached its mature size and feels firm to the touch.
  • After harvesting, rinse the lettuce leaves to remove any dirt or debris, and then gently pat them dry with a clean towel.
  • Store your lettuce in a plastic bag or container with a damp paper towel to maintain humidity. Place the container in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, where the lettuce can be stored for up to two weeks.

In Conclusion

Growing lettuce in the summer can be a rewarding endeavor, providing you with a continuous supply of fresh, flavorful greens for your salads and sandwiches. By choosing heat-tolerant lettuce varieties, providing proper care, and following best practices for harvesting and storage, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor all summer long.






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