With garden space really crunched this summer, I have been trying something new: growing lettuces in shallow decorative containers….on my patio. This has been a great experiment because it got me to slow down, concentrate on each seed, and tend the pots carefully. Not that much trouble really, as weeding is a non-issue and the lettuce is right outside the kitchen door.
Here’s how I did it:
* Starting in April I sowed seeds of three different lettuces in little starter pots: Parris Island, Buttercrunch and Jericho (hint, label each variety so you know which one does best)
* About a month later, after all the seeds had sprouted and I had thinned out many of the little stalks, I planted each variety in a different large, shallow container; I added a coffee filter over the bottom hole, then a few inches of small gravel, and finally the potting soil.
* Just for fun I mixed in different plants with each set of lettuces: dwarf sunflowers in one, eggplant seedlings in one, and Roman chamomile seedlings in the third.
* Add water and sun, and wait for harvest size leaves.
Sunspot Dwarf Sunflower
Now it’s early June and the lettuces are doing great. I can pick a few leaves of each one (enough for laying in a sandwich or for a small salad, or even just to munch while working in the garden).
I love the Buttercrunch with eggplant combo. The lettuce is flawless and has a mild, creamy flavor and consistency. The Parris Island is a wonderful mixed with the chamomile; the lettuce leaves are nice and crunchy and have just a bit more flavor. The Jericho is doing less well, as it is suffering from a lack of sunlight under the sunflower leaves.
All these varieties are being studied by Sow True Seed for their ability to withstand hot weather without bolting right away. Great results. Remember, lettuce does particularly well in cool weather, but my experiment shows that in a mild spring and summer I can get a lot of fresh organic lettuce for just pennies.
Written by Nan Chase