Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sowing Schedule for Weekly Lettuce Harvest


Building on our fundamental soil block making and fall planting lessons covered earlier, lettuce (pun intended) look at a sowing schedule and how it compares to a harvest schedule during the shorter days of fall and winter. These results are accurate for 36 degrees parallel and up. Lower parallels will be similiar, but have shorter harvest times due to longer winter sun hours. Gauging the harvest time from sowing is crucial for fall cropping. With cold frames, greenhouses, cloches, etc., climate is not as big of factor as sunlight. Lettuce harvests will take so much longer due to the shorter days, but production, or number of days to harvest, will return at a better rate in January. This Dutch data chart has the horizontal axis representing sowing dates from August through April. The vertical axis gives the number of days to harvest. Written along the curve of the graph are average harvest dates corresponding to the planting date directly below. Notice how a sowing in October 5 will take 2 and a half months to harvest(February 5). Lettuce planted in April should really only take 30-40 days to mature. But, by using this chart you can actually time the harvest of lettuce to meet your family's demand for fresh greens. This lettuce chart can be used for just about any salad greens, baby greens, or spinach. Keep track of your results and expect a learning curve. Plant extra seeds for this experimental stage. Weather can be a factor: Cloudy days will most certainly slow your chart down a bit, but sunny days can easily speed it up. Soil blocks are very important in this procedure. A 2" block gets a better start and can easily outgrow and outpace a 1.5" block. Eliminating transplant shock is critical to good growth in the winter. Soil blocks make this harvest a reality. Understand the length of day will have the biggest effect on crop timing. With that understanding, a day to day harvest is the goal.

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