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Old March 7, 2018   #16
PotGarden
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And as pointed out by Bower, I need to find a shady spot. Around here, in this neck of the woods, heat and humidity get here quick.

Another and possibly better option, would be lettuce in the greenhouse in the winter. But, and its a huge but, I would probably have to provide supplemental light. Or Im assuming anyways.

From reading the FaceBook posts provided by my new market, NOBODY has winter grown lettuce. This could be an advantage.

Time to do some research.
I've tried to grow lettuce on Windows indoors. I think it depends on the variety and how much sun. Some of them get really leggy, some are ok. I grow it all year under lights.
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Old March 7, 2018   #17
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French breakfast radish is the best to grow for sales. Quick turnaround and very uniform. Selling bagged lettuce is a huge undertaking if your going to do it for sales. I likely won't wash mine this year. Just not worth it. Mini heads sell really well. The ones from Johnnys are great. I'm moving to more heads and less mix. They get the same $ and wayyyyyy less work.
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Old March 7, 2018   #18
FourOaks
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French breakfast radish is the best to grow for sales. Quick turnaround and very uniform. Selling bagged lettuce is a huge undertaking if your going to do it for sales. I likely won't wash mine this year. Just not worth it. Mini heads sell really well. The ones from Johnnys are great. I'm moving to more heads and less mix. They get the same $ and wayyyyyy less work.
I have 3 or 4 different radishes to try. Speaking of, need to get the seed going.

Yeah, the whole lettuce thing is a real struggle for me. Heads vs. Cut.

I like the idea of cut, because lets be honest, customers are lazy. But it certainly does entail more work. On the other hand, if you do a cut and come again lettuce, then your at a minimum doubling your money. If not possibly tripling or quadrupling. Assuming all the stars align and it doesnt bolt.

Heads on the other hand are tempting because as you said, lot less work. Just pluck and sell. But what you see is what you get.

You mentioned Johnny's. Last year I tried the Rex Variety Lettuce in a homebrew hydroponic rail system.

I wasnt terribly impressed. Small heads, and although they are claimed to be perfect for hydro in a greenhouse, they bolted faster then a couple of other misc. varieties that I had.

Decisions decisions.
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Old March 7, 2018   #19
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Something that just came to mind. Im not opposed to the smaller lettuces, and maybe it would work out for the better.

The new market that I will be selling at this year, is in the city and has a "youthful, hipster, foodie" type of clientele. If you know what I am getting at. My previous market that I was at, the main customer base was older folks.

A huge difference in the clientele.

So perhaps the more "gourmet" it seems, the better.
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Old March 7, 2018   #20
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Too true it is a lot of work, but customers are lazy and love a clean looking product. The other market bonus is making it a gourmet mix. If you have baby kale or arugula or mizuna or mustard...radiccio, so many possibilities - many of which grow faster than lettuce if anything - they are buying it for the interesting "gourmet" taste blend. And you can tweak and tailor the mix to keep it interesting. And you should get a primo price for that "mix" vs a head of lettuce.

Even head lettuce gets a few minutes dunked in the washtub here to keep it fresh for the market - and will float away slugs or other bugs just by leaving it in water while you rinse out the tub. We wash everything (except tomatoes and peppers), it does wonders for appearance and most of all, shelf life for anything with greens. The farm is organic so we do expect to find a few critters in the lettuce and such.
Re: shade for lettuce, somewhere there's a thread where Oakley described how a shade garden was made to keep lettuce cool all summer - no idea where to find that now.
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Old March 7, 2018   #21
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Maybe the best option would be to offer both. Heads, and bagged. Charging more for bagged for the obvious labor.
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Old March 7, 2018   #22
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Can’t stress enough to check out urban farmer Curtis stone on YouTube.
You can search videos on post harvest stations he uses for lettuce washing.
How he bags.
How he grows and harvests, even in summer.
Mostly uses salanova that is a multi cut.
You would need to set up low tunnel hoops with shade cloth to do salanova in NC in summer.
Irrigation from overhead in the morning and mid day to cool the soil. Every day.
His videos are the best I’ve seen. Careful, you might get sucked in and find that you’ll binge watch.
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Old March 7, 2018   #23
FourOaks
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Can’t stress enough to check out urban farmer Curtis stone on YouTube.
You can search videos on post harvest stations he uses for lettuce washing.
How he bags.
How he grows and harvests, even in summer.
Mostly uses salanova that is a multi cut.
You would need to set up low tunnel hoops with shade cloth to do salanova in NC in summer.
Irrigation from overhead in the morning and mid day to cool the soil. Every day.
His videos are the best I’ve seen. Careful, you might get sucked in and find that you’ll binge watch.
Yeah, I started watching his videos way back in time. I think I had originally found him when he had maybe 20 or so videos up.

I disagree with him on certain aspects, but I try to put aside personal feelings, just follow along cause the info is solid, and clearly works.

I have thought about ordering the Salanova, just never have.

As far as summer growing, its worth giving it a shot. For misting I have looked at the PVC saddles that are threaded. You just screw in the appropriate mister, and let it have at it.

Probably 50% shade at a minimum. 65% would probably be better.
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Old March 8, 2018   #24
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Well, I decided to go for broke.

I planted Sparkler and French Breakfast Radishes in 1801 Deep pots, along with a short stubby carrot that the variety name escapes me at the moment.

Then, I scattered the remaining seed in one of my raised beds in between the sugar snap peas.

After that, I scattered some of my lettuce mix blend in another raised bed.

Speaking of the lettuce blend, the seeds that were sown in the 1020 flat a few days back is coming along. I brought it inside and put under the lights. Germination really sped up. Seems that the temp swings in the Seedling House was wreaking havoc. Which is something I am trying to learn to work with. Some seeds dont care a bit, some do.

Yesterday, I put some of the lettuce blend in plug trays, just to see what would yield. This afternoon I already spotted some germination. I put the plug trays under the lights, but topped with a piece of clear wrap to help with humidity.

I might end up putting a low tunnel over the raised beds to help encourage germination. I have plenty of scrap GH plastic.
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Old March 8, 2018   #25
BigVanVader
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I grew Salanova last year and followed Curtis Stones methods. My issue was that everyone else had salad mix and in Summer I only got 2 cuts. The seed is so expensive plus all the work prepping beds, starting plugs, burning holes in fabric, reconfiguring irrigation, trying to keep them cool, cutting, washing, bagging, weighing, selling about half of it every week . That said every place is different. I am using Landrace and wild lettuces this year. Head lettuce can easily be a mix. If I was going to get serious about salad mix I'd have to have a greens bubbler, a big spinner, and a walk in like Curtis. Otherwise labor eats into the profit too much for me. I also thought Salanova sucked. Taste and texture like cardboard. Could have been my fault though. I'll add that greenhouse cukes are by far my easiest and most profitable crop.
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Old March 8, 2018   #26
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I grew Salanova last year and followed Curtis Stones methods. My issue was that everyone else had salad mix and in Summer I only got 2 cuts. The seed is so expensive plus all the work prepping beds, starting plugs, burning holes in fabric, reconfiguring irrigation, trying to keep them cool, cutting, washing, bagging, weighing, selling about half of it every week . That said every place is different. I am using Landrace and wild lettuces this year. Head lettuce can easily be a mix. If I was going to get serious about salad mix I'd have to have a greens bubbler, a big spinner, and a walk in like Curtis. Otherwise labor eats into the profit too much for me. I also thought Salanova sucked. Taste and texture like cardboard. Could have been my fault though. I'll add that greenhouse cukes are by far my easiest and most profitable crop.
As stated, I havent tried Salanova, but in my experience, lettuce is, well lettuce. Full disclosure, I havent had the best luck with lettuce either. Maybe one of these days Ill learn other wise.


I will say that last year, the variety "Rex" did have a unique flavor. In my opinion it had a sort of Green Apple/Granny Smith kinda flavor. But then it bolted very quickly so that was that.


Vader, you and I are in a similar region, obviously. There has got to be an easy to grow lettuce that tastes good, and is bolt resistant. Be it heads or a mix.


I think its going to take trialing a bunch of varieties to get it right. As far as "Summer" growing. Even with constant misting, I dont see it doing well. Would definitely have to have a very well drained soil. Cause I can see all kinds of problems if not.


I would like to explore the Hydro setup I had last year again. But keeping the nutrient solution cool enough became a huge problem.


So in the end, I am open minded to both Hydro and Soil grown. Something has to work.
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Old March 8, 2018   #27
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That's why I'm going with the wild and Landrace lettuces. About 25 varieties this year. Whichever do well without help will be allowed to bolt and cross. That way in about 3 years I'll have a mix that taste good and withstands my conditions. Also, all my other lettuce tasted good and had good texture. Salanova seemed to require something beyond normal lettuce care. I've heard that it likely was my clay soil, as apparently some lettuces dislike clay? Idk...but I was not impressed.
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Old March 8, 2018   #28
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There's definitely a big difference in bolting time for one lettuce or another. The best one I have found so far is a "Freckles" type lettuce. There was one called "Cherokee" I read about but haven't grown, supposed to withstand heat and drought. Even we can have bad times for lettuce here if it happens to get hot and dry for a spell.

I planted some of my romaine types for heads in the greenhouse. Really impressed with a new one called "Sherwood" billed as a "mini Romaine". It's super dark green and very upright with those thick juicy ribs already, the others are more spreading and softer buttery type leaf. I hope it turns out to be as good as it looks. Will have to save seed if it is!
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Old March 9, 2018   #29
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There's definitely a big difference in bolting time for one lettuce or another. The best one I have found so far is a "Freckles" type lettuce. There was one called "Cherokee" I read about but haven't grown, supposed to withstand heat and drought. Even we can have bad times for lettuce here if it happens to get hot and dry for a spell.

I planted some of my romaine types for heads in the greenhouse. Really impressed with a new one called "Sherwood" billed as a "mini Romaine". It's super dark green and very upright with those thick juicy ribs already, the others are more spreading and softer buttery type leaf. I hope it turns out to be as good as it looks. Will have to save seed if it is!
I guess I just cant fathom in your neck of the woods, having troubles with heat and lettuce. But, I know it a reality.


On another note, I was looking at Southern Exposure and found "Thai Oakleaf". Supposedly very heat resistant, and only 39 days. I think the DTM is another key to it. Grow fast, and harvest it.
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Old March 9, 2018   #30
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BVV's idea is perfect... landrace the lettuce, select the ones that stand up to the conditions. I hope you have some time to take a few pics for us BVV later in the season. Very interested to see how that works out for you.
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