Monday, March 17, 2008
most leaf varieties 45 days, most head lettuce 55 days from seeding to maturity
others: head varieties from 55-75 days (eg butterhead), leaves can be picked/cut earlier – eg 30 days.
-when growing head lettuce from seeds, keep track of dates to avoid bolting
seeds will germinate at as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 C), though 75 degrees (24 C) is optimal
plant seeds 1/4 inch deep. (Lettuce seeds will also germinate on surface/with sunlight?)
Growing and Transplanting Lettuce Seedlings
In a cold frame, you’ll need about 11 weeks to grow your seedlings so that they’re ready to plant in the garden.
When you’re ready to transplant your lettuce, you should get it used to outside conditions. About a week before you’re ready to plant, set your plants outside a few hours, increasing the time to a full day after about 3 days. Your lettuce should be ready to plant after a week of exposure to outside temperatures. Wet down your garden beds several hours or a day before you transplant.
10 inches apart f/full sized heads, 4 inches for baby-leaf cutting
-good to grow in diagonal “rows” for max space efficiency
-leaf varieties can be sown close together (a few inches) than progressively thinned to get baby greens
ample space = fewer problems with fungus
different sources differ on sandy vs. clay soil, nutrient requirements
needs frequent watering especially in heat
moist soil is key; one way to keep soil moist is to mulch
can be partial shade
likes cool weather
Lettuce is affected by a number of pests. Be especially on the lookout for cabbage worms, loopers, aphids, and armyworms. Lettuce that is harvested in the spring has fewer problems with diseases.
As far as diseases, fungal diseases are sometimes a risk for your lettuce crop. Look for problems with damping off, sclerotinia, and mildews. To avoid these problems, use an organic fungicide, and avoid over watering. A good way to deal with over watering is to use a drip irrigation system or a soaker hose.
water the ground not the leaves, thus avoiding tip burn, and fungus problems
Plant times/Spacing/Harvest Time/Sunlight
“Rhubarb likes to grow in full sun or light shade, in a rich sandy loam soil that drains well. Most rhubarb is propagated by division, not by seed, because the seed is not always true to type.”
“I plant rhubarb divisions 3 to 4 feet apart and water them well after planting. The plants need to be kept moist, but not too wet or too dry. If they dry out, they will go dormant, and if they are over-watered, they will rot.”
For the first year after planting your rhubarb plant, don’t pick any stalks. This will allow the plant to focus its energy on developing a strong root system. The following year, you can harvest some stalks. The plants will come into full production in the third year and continue for many years if properly maintained.
When the rhubarb plants are 3 to 4 years old, they can be divided. If rhubarb plants are not divided in about 10 to 15 years, most varieties can lose their vigor and slow down—and possibly die.
Rhubarb should be divided when it is dormant—before the ground is frozen in the fall or after the ground has thawed in the spring. With a shovel, I remove either the whole crown or part of the crown from the rest of the rhubarb plant. I then divide it into pieces at least the size of a doubled-up fist. Smaller pieces might grow, but the larger the pieces are, the more energy they will have to get a good start. Smaller pieces take a lot of care, so I start with a large division.
Forced rhubarb is delicious - the stems are more tender, sweeter and don't need to be peeled. It's a simple process and well worth trying.
All you need is a container (dustbin, box, large pot, bucket etc.) which will exclude light. Place it over the rhubarb as soon as it begins to show signs of growth. The lack of light and the heating effect of the container will rapidly bring on the rhubarb which should be ready for eating in about four weeks, a good month or so before rhubarb that is not forced. When the rhubarb is picked (or it outgrows the covering) remove the covering and leave the rhubarb to recover for next year. Have a go, it's really simple and worthwhile.
Rhubarb is normally sold in garden centres as one year old plants (known as 'crowns') of a particular variety. Rhubarb five years or more old can be lifted and split into three or more 'crowns' - see the later section on 'how to divide rhubarb'. Both types should be planted in the same manner.
rhubarb diagramPrepare the soil as described previously, and dig a hole a little bit wider than the plant. The depth should be such that the top of the plant is 2.5cm (1in) below the soil surface (see the diagram on the left). Fill in around the plant with soil, gently firming it down to ensure no air pockets remain. Water well if the conditions are dry. Spread a mulch (garden compost or other well-rotted organic material) around the plants, but not directly above where the crown will emerge in a month or so.
Three plants should be sufficient to meet most needs - the spacing between plants should be about 75cm (2ft 6in) for varieties such as Cawood Delight, Victoria, Ruby and Canada Red. However, some varieties such as 'The Sutton' need a spacing of about 1.2m (4ft) - ask at your Garden Centre when buying any other varieties.
Rhubarb is a heavy feeder, and I find that composted manure is the best fertilizer for it.
Originating from Siberia, rhubarb is very strong and suffers from few diseases or pests. The only problem will be Crown rot - the top of the plant rots badly and it can be knocked of with ease. There is no cure, dig up the infected plant and burn it.
Pick too early = no production next year, not allowing plant time to develop roots
-Growing Rhubarb, by Roy Beck. Natural Life Magazine, Jan/Feb 1999-“Growing Rhubarb.” http://www.gardenaction.co.uk