Harvest Monday, December 17, 2012 – Windowbox Lettuce

DSC04568editp copyLettuce left to right: Forellenschluss, Cimmaron and Oak Leaf

Some of you may recall my first mention of planting lettuce seedlings in windowboxes on 9/17/12 (click and scroll down) and followed the progresses through my various post’s updates.

Last week I had another good harvest, click here to see the salad I made with the harvest.

This may be the last harvest but I am hoping not. You see, Friday, 12/21/12, will be the shortest day of the year in my part of the world (the Northern Hemisphere). After Friday, the days will be getting longer, so if I can keep the plants alive, hopefully, they will start to grow at a faster rate as the days get longer and I will get a few more harvests (that’s my thinking). I also side dressed each plant with an organic granular fertilizer to give each a boost, not sure if this is a good idea at this time of the year though (should have done this a month or 2 earlier).

Currently, the windowboxes sit on the driveway in the sun during the day and comes into the garage at night to protect them from deer and cold nights. January and February are bitterly cold, day and night, in my part of the world, the plants may go dormant, in which case I will keep them in the unheated garage, day and night, until March. Will see how this  works out. Any suggestions on this experiment is welcomed.

The lettuces in the windowboxes below are
Top to bottom: Forellenschluss, Cimmaron and Oak Leaf.

DSC04564editp copyBefore harvest

DSC04610editp copyAfter harvest
Gathered the outer leaves and left 3 – 5 center leaves on each plant. Thus the plant will continue to grow new leaves.

Conclusions to this experiment:

Of the 3 types of lettuces I am growing in the windowboxes, the oak leaf is the hardiest and grew at the fastest rate. The forellenschluss and cimmaron grew at a much slower rate once the weather got real cold, the tips of many of the leaves suffered cold damage. A few of the plants shrivelled and died.

Since I do not have a hoop frame or cold frame, growing my lettuces in windowboxes did extend my growing season, definitely repeating next year with a few more boxes.

I prefer the light weight plastic windowbox over other containers because of its size, design and ease of moving. Lines up in a neat row along my driveway and fits easily along the wall of my garage.

A windowbox is adequate for growing lettuce. Next fall I will also plant red rib dandelion and arugula as I think they too will do well in a windowbox. May try spinach also.

Planting mix should be enriched with good quality compost.

Because of the limited space in a windowbox which means limited amount of nutrients,  more frequent fertilizing is needed to supply plants with needed nutrients, ¼ strength, 3 – 4 times a week. Less frequent watering is needed as the weather gets cold, so it would be a good idea to side dress the plants with a granular fertilizer, perhaps late October early November, to assure plants get adequate nutrients.

Do not crowd plants, give each adequate space, especially fall planting. Spring planting may be OK as plants grow at a much faster rate during the spring and the thinnings would be a good size (will try out this theory come spring).

Overall this was a good experiment, I enjoyed observing the plants grow and became more aware of weather conditions. Worth the effort even though the yield was not that great, the knowledge gained is invaluable.

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Visit Daphne’s Dandelions http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/ for more Harvest Mondays

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6875497

About Norma Chang

I am the author/publisher of 2 user-friendly Chinese cookbooks: "My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes (updated edition)" and "Wokking Your Way to Low Fat Cooking" A gardener who enjoys cooking and eating and loves to think outside the box A garden volunteer at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden Conduct hands-on cooking workshops for teenagers Conduct cultural programs for children and family Conduct healthy cooking classes for adults
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45 Responses to Harvest Monday, December 17, 2012 – Windowbox Lettuce

  1. It is nice to think of the days growing longer again. I also recently side-dressed the veg. I think we’re trying to push them through the winter!

  2. Daphne says:

    The oak leaf lettuce really is doing very well. I wonder if you can find other varieties that are as good.

  3. kitsapfg says:

    I have some shallow planters on the deck with lettuce growing in them too. I do that often as it is convenient to have them up where I can get them easily on dark winter evenings, and the deck get’s the most of the feeble sunshine during the winter. Mine are pretty much done for the season though, but I will soon be starting some indoors to put out in very early spring in those same boxes (after adding compost etc to rejuvenate the soil). I like having as steady a stream of lettuces as possible.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Laura,
      I did not think of starting lettuce seeds indoors, thanks for the idea. I wish I had a deck then I would not have to worry about deer. Mine may be done for the season also, will see.

  4. Dave says:

    Great results with those windowboxes! I’m still experimenting also to find lettuces that grow in cold weather. I have lots that survive, but growing new leaves is another thing. We will have to compare notes in the future. Oakleaf is one of my favorites too for cold weather. My arugula does great in planters, as does mache and mizuna

  5. ChgoJohn says:

    If only the warmth would return quickly following the solstice. Your window boxes sure did prove good for lettuce, although your care was a major reason for the harvest. Not many would daily move window boxes back and forth, from driveway to garage. You’re amazing, Norma.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello John,
      I lack a life. Actually it takes only a minute to move the boxes out when I get the newspaper in the morning and a minute to move them back in when I get home later in the day plus I get a little weight lifting excercise. Spring will be here before we know it.

  6. I collected a lot of mache seed this summer, are you interested?

  7. Leanne says:

    Norma you did great moving the window boxes each day and for your efforts well rewarded with fresh greens.
    Love Leanne

  8. Wonderful! The lettuces would make a lovely salad.

  9. Eva Taylor says:

    I am glad that your lettuce window box experiment was as successful as it was Norma, it must be very satisfying. Do you have space in your garage to park your car too? 😉

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Eva,
      I have a small car (CRV) so there is still space. Your question reminds me of a presentation I did on freezing a while back. After going through the list of things I freeze, a gentleman asked: “Norma, which is bigger, your freezer or your garage?”
      I am happy with my windowbox lettuce experiment and will be expanding next year, and yes, there will still be space in the garage for my car too.

  10. Michelle says:

    That box with the oakleaf lettuce is so pretty, I would have been tempted to just let it keep growing as an ornamental box.

  11. Your lettuce looks very healthy 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  12. Great work on your lettuce experiment. Our climates are totally different, but I love Black Seeded Simpson and Deer Tongue lettuce, both heirlooms. Lollo Rosa is great too.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Lou,
      Thanks. I have deer tongue and Lolla Rosa lettuce seeds, will try them out for winter hardiness next fall. I think my son-in-law grows black seeded simpson, should check with him and get a few seeds to try out.

  13. Andrea says:

    Well I can see you really love your lettuce Norma, interesting to hear which variety preformed the best.
    Although we have a mild winter (no snow) we do have frosts around -4C sometimes, I found the red oak leaf preformed the best for me.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Andrea,
      I shall looking into getting some red oak leaf seeds to compare with green oak leaf. As you are aware, nothing compares to freshly harvested homegrown lettuce.

  14. Liz says:

    As well as the Oak leaf types I find some of the Cos (romaine) Lettuce varieties do really well for me in our winter. Freckles did particularly well for me this year.

  15. leduesorelle says:

    Great experiment! For season extension, we’ve had luck with a winter lettuce mix from Fedco — includes Green Deer Tongue, Red Rumpled, Blushed Cutter Cos, Rouge D’Hiver, Bronze Mignonette, and Royal Oakleaf (as you discovered)!

  16. A really nice comparison. Outdoor window seal boxes do not do well here in HK even with water. I think the plants do not like the salt from the sea water…? or maybe I just have a black thumb…

  17. Nice harvest, there’s nothing better that a good home grown salad, even just a little bit. I am playing a game: now you see me, now – you don’t with my few plants on the balcony. Every day I check the weather to see if I need to cover them for the night, or take them even inside. Then I decided to keep one tomato plant and basil inside, the parsley and lovage I keep outside and just cover. Fun if you ask me… 🙂

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Marina,
      Yep, nothing better than homegrown salad. Your growing conditions are quite different from mine, perhaps you will post about your experience at a later date.

  18. I could only wish to have it warm enough here to bring boxes in and out of the garage to grow my own lettuce. What an excellent crop you’ve got, I think the oak leaf is the prettiest of them all! Have a wonderful and joyous Christmas, Norma!! xx

  19. Juliana says:

    Awesome experiments with the window boxes and lettuce…I have a few of this containers and will give a try…next Spring…
    Thanks for the post as always loaded of good information. Hope you are enjoying your week Norma!

  20. Hotly Spiced says:

    It’s impressive you’re able to have a harvest at this time of year when your days are so cold and short. I planted lettuce a few months ago but the harsh sun burnt them and they shriveled up and died. I’ll try again in the Autumn xx

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Charlie,
      It was not that much of an harvest, enough for 3 salads only. I was able to get good harvest during the summer because I planted the lettuce in a shadier part of my garden. Autumn is a good time to plant.

  21. I have had no luck with lettuce of any kind. But other greens do just fine. Yours is so pretty, even if you didn’t have a huge amount…two leaves is more than I ever had! 🙂

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