|Barbara & one of her lettuce beds|
Barbara Billek, who gardens at the Columbia Gardeners, Inc., Westside Garden Plots, has been harvesting Buttercrunch, Deer Tongue, and Parris Island Cos lettuce for several weeks now, while most of us gardeners in Central Maryland have been struggling to plant our lettuce seeds in rain-saturated soil.
What’s her secret for jump-starting her spring garden?
“I planted my lettuce seeds on September 26,” she explained. “September is a great month for gardening, with its sunny days and temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s. Compare that with the cold, wet days of March or April, when many gardeners start thinking of planting their spring vegetables.”
How did Barbara’s lettuce survive the freezes and snows of Winter 2010-2011?
“I cover it with a floating row cover,” she explained. “I’ve been doing it for six years. I use a light-weight cover--.6 ounces per square yard—that I buy from Gardens Alive. The label says it provides light frost protection and also is a good insect barrier.”
Does Barbara use hoops or some sort of a structure to support the cover?
“No, I just cover the seedlings sometime in November, when the weather turns cold. I use large plastic clothes pins to attach the cover to the sides of my raised beds so it won’t blow away. Some gardeners use plastic or wire row-cover pins, bricks or stones, or even the soil itself to anchor the cover in place.”
When does she take off the cover?
|Barbara sowed the taller lettuce on September 26|
and the shorter lettuce on March 13
“We’ve been eating lettuce salads for dinner every evening,” Barbara explained. “We give some away, and still we have too much lettuce.”
|Barbara sowed this chard on September 4|
and covered it over winter
“Yes, ” Barbara replied. “I make my own. It’s three parts grapeseed oil and one part high-grade balsamic vinegar, both of which I get at Trader Joe’s.”
Do row covers get other veggies through the winter?
“Yes,” Barbara said. “I do the same with chard, kale, and spinach. They do well too.”
|Thank you, Barbara, for the lettuce sampler|
Additional Information: To see photos and read more facts about row covers, CLICK HERE to link to the University of Maryland Extension’s information sheet GE 004, “Floating Row Cover.”