|Red Sails lettuce cut March 2|
It was beautiful—the head of Red Sails lettuce I cut Friday when Ellen said we needed lettuce for our lunchtime sandwiches.
The head was the last of three I raised over winter in the mini-greenhouse I fashioned from an inexpensive plastic storage container I bought for a few dollars at Wal-Mart. The storage container provided enough protection for the Red Sails lettuce—a cold-resistant variety—to grow through Winter 2011-2012. I started the seeds in yoghurt cups on October 31 and transplanted the seedlings into the mini-greenhouse on November 9.
This winter has been unusually warm with temperatures dropping below 20°F only five or six times and never below 18°. To give the lettuce an even better chance of surviving, I set up the mini-greenhouse on the south side of a brick wall, where it would be both protected from cold wind and would benefit from the heat-absorbing bricks.
After cutting beautiful heads of lettuce through the winter, I can only declare, “Success!” The mini-greenhouse works.
Of course I should have two or three lettuce seedlings ready to transplant into the mini-greenhouse—but I don’t. On Thursday I seeded two varieties—Red Sails and Green Ice—in a yoghurt cup that’s sitting on our kitchen windowsill, but they won’t be ready to transplant for another two weeks. Do I hear a lecture coming on, “Use Your Head and Plan Ahead, Bob”?
During this experiment I’ve learned that something other than lettuce thrives over winter in my mini-greenhouse—slugs. When I cut the last head of lettuce on Friday, I looked carefully between the bases of the leaves and found two half-inch black slugs and several so small they appeared more white than black.
I suppose an iron-stomached foodie might consider adding buttered slugs to his or her menu—but, thank you, I’ll take a pass.
I’ve got to add organic slug bait (iron phosphate), such as Slug Magic, Sluggo, or Escar-Go, to my garden shopping list because slugs are a fact of veggie gardening here at Meadow Glenn, where our 10 small, semi-terraced plots curve around the crest of a hill. Supporting the plots are hundreds of concrete stacking block and even some river-stone mulch and some pavers that provide limitless living places for slugs.
If you want to get a head start on spring lettuce growing, why don’t you make a mini-greenhouse and start your lettuce today—and then reuse your greenhouse this fall to keep your fridge well stocked with lettuce into Winter 2012-2013?
If you want to see my posting about how I built my mini-greenhouse, CLICK HERE.