Thanks to everyone who responded! Question and replies below.ORIGINAL QUESTION:
I'm looking for some sage advice on what tricks have worked well to help keep salad greens from getting bitter in the heat. Beyond the standard advice of adequate moisture, high fertility, and early morning harvest, I'm wondering if anyone can weigh in on:
-Specific organic varieties or mixes (for baby lettuce greens and/or EZ leaf/Salanova type greens, not standard full lettuce heads) that have proven particularly successful?
-Experience using shade cloth--does it help? worth the cost? how do you use it?
-Special watering regiments that have helped, beyond the more general advice to keep the soil moist?REPLIES:
We cover ours for it’s last week with shade mesh. You get the added benefit of deterring deer and rabbits! We buy stuff that is as wide as the bed and tack it down over low tunnel hoops nice and tight to the ground. We swear by it. Also, salami a is great, but the oak leaf varieties are terrible. I’d also recommend a different single cut mini oak leaf like Hampton. Hope this helps!
Ray Tyler and his masterclass can’t be beat- He has it nailed.
Eztron, Ezrilla and Buckley are 3 varieties that we have found that are still sweet in intense heat and even after a second cut. If you haven’t tried them, I think they are in High Mowing Seed and Osborne catalogs. Also doing small romaines, like Breen and Xalbadora can get you weight early before they become fully mature.
Sulu, clearwater, celinet, and galactic are the baby lettuce varieties we've found that best avoid bitterness in the summer. You can't really expect to get more than two cuttings, or one cutting if you let them get large.
Culturally you can also widen your spacing which helps lettuce (and other crops) resist stress. We typically grow heads on 8” and move to 12” in the summer. My preferred Multileaf (Salanova type) lettuce spacing is 6” x 9” but we will move to 8” x 15” in summer. This is probably further apart than we would need to go, but it is an easy spacing for us to accomplish with our cultivation equipment, plus we don’t have quite the summer stress as the more continental areas like VT does and many other parts of New England and further south.
Among the Salanovas there are some differences in bolting tendencies which is somewhat an indicator of bitterness and heat stress tolerance. Among Multileaf options available to smaller growers, all of them are still proving to be the best in heat. Not sure if you wanting to hear any more specifics on Salanova or not since they are not Organic, but feel free to reach out if you are looking for some more info. I also do lots of trialing with them next to EZ Leaf material if you wanted to call, I’d be happy to fill you in on my observations.
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