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Friday PhotoEssay: Radicchio & Lettuce Edition

Because I’m saving the pictures of the garlic and shallots for a separate post, I took a few pictures of the radicchio and lettuce in the garden for today. The red color is getting darker as we have some colder days and nights. The red color is also variable between the different plants, which I find interesting. There is obviously not complete genetic uniformity in this seed batch. off, a picture of the red lettuce again. This one actually has a fully formed head. It is not a tight head like with iceberg, but there is definitely a head there. radicchio is much more speckled rather than developing solid red color. Almost like the chioggia types tend to do. one has the speckled character, but also some nice dark red color on the upper/inner surface of the leaves. last picture is the plant right on the corner, so that could be the reason for the darker color – it gets colder than the others. It has darkened to this nice burgundy color in the last 10 days.

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay

This week has gone fast! I thought I might get at least 1 more of my catch-up posts finished, but apparently not. I do want to get my lemongrass/turkey stock with lemongrass post done next week, because rumor has it that a lot of people will have leftover turkey or turkey carcasses!

The lettuce and radicchio that we planted from transplants in late August/early September is still looking great! Some of the varieties aren’t quite as good, probably because we’ve had so much heat.

The red butterhead lettuces are consistently my favorites in the fall. The leaves are buttery and tender and the color gradients are beautiful. They are also quite cold tolerant, since the reds get darker with the cold weather. This picture is from AFTER the cold snap last weekend. This one is ‘Skyphos.’ The red color isn’t quite as brilliant as the ‘Red Cross’ variety we grew a couple years ago, but still really nice.

This ‘Galactic’ lettuce isn’t nearly as nice. I think it had actually started bolting a little bit in the heat (see the stalks – that’s not normal lettuce behavior!), and obviously the older leaves were not tolerant of the cold. The new leaves at the top look like the cold didn’t bother them much. Of course, the color is gorgeous!

The ‘Winter Density’ lettuce is quite cold tolerant. I don’t see any cold damage whatsoever. However, If you look close, you can see that this variety has also started bolting a little bit. Crazy warm fall and fluctuating temperatures!

From a distance, the radicchio looks like it sustained a lot of injury. I think these are mostly the big, older leaves that grew during the warm weather. On closer inspection, things look a lot better.

This is the red radicchio, and you can see that the center leaves look perfectly healthy and are starting to show more red color in the cold.

The green radicchio has a little more damage, but still looks really good!

Okay, that’s all for today. I hope you are enjoying the fall weather with some beautiful lettuces and salad greens as well!

Have a great weekend!

Transplanting Lettuce & Radicchio

Even though we are looking at temperatures in the 90s this week, we went ahead and transplanted the lettuce and radicchio. It would have been too big by next week anyway.

The colors will get much darker and more vibrant as things cool off this fall. In this picture, the darker red lettuce is a leaf lettuce called ‘Galactic’ that is generally a dark red. The lighter red (okay, so it just looks green in this picture) is a red butterhead type called ‘Skyphos’. We also have a green romaine, ‘Winter Density,’ a green oakleaf, ‘Panisse,’ and a red oakleaf, ‘Jamai.’

First off, we removed those horridly aphid-infested cucumbers from the Family of 4 Garden. We also raked of the straw mulch from any of the areas where we were planning to plant.

We planted the lettuce right along the drip lines, staggering the plants about 6-8″ apart on either side of the drip. The soil was BONE DRY even after we recorded more than 3″ of rain over the weekend! I’m guessing that unless we have more consistent rainfall this fall (yeah, right), we will probably lose some of these plants, just because the drip doesn’t have enough coverage in this super sandy soil. The emitters on the drip are 12″ apart.

Once we were done planting, we put the straw mulch back in a light layer between the rows of lettuce. Having straw mulch in a lettuce bed isn’t necessarily a great idea, because it can make cleaning the lettuce after harvest a bit of a pain. However, we really wanted the straw to help hold soil moisture and to keep the soil a little bit cooler for the time being. We also made sure we watered thoroughly.

Over in the “New & Unique Vegetables” garden we planted some green and red radicchio seedlings. (They both look green right now. Color development depends on cold weather.) We used the same planting scheme as with the lettuce. We also planted some cilantro in a small area in the Mexican Garden, between the peppers and the Mexican Oregano.

The leek and onion seedlings are still pretty small, so we will plant them in a couple weeks when there is more space to plant.

Friday PhotoEssay

I can’t believe that it’s only 68 degrees right now, and our high today is in the low 90s! Mostly I can’t believe that it’s only 68 degrees at this time of morning!

The sesame has been such a thug (albeit an attractive thug) in the Beautiful Vegetables garden that I forget to look for the other plants sometimes. This ‘Redskin’ pepper plant is actually fairly productive, given the amount of shade it is getting. The plants look a little sad though, shaded as they are.

Remember how I was all concerned the other day about the radicchio being slow to grow and having a poor germination rate? Apparently my concerns were mostly unfounded. The radicchio has popped up in just 3 days and the germination rate looks pretty good!

This is one of the hazards of growing cantaloupe on a trellis…especially if you don’t make the effort to tie the melons in bags or socks. It is a little hard to see in this picture, but this cantaloupe is firmly wedged into one of the narrower panels of the trellis.

Here’s the “action” shot as we tried to get it out! If I’d been fast on my feet, I would have switched my camera to video mode!

The Thai Red Roselle is starting to show those calyxes that we were talking about last week. They still aren’t completely red, but at least they are there. Now to have enough to actually do something with them!

Have a great weekend, enjoying the cooler weather!

Getting Ready for Fall

With rain yesterday and not a SINGLE triple-digit temperature forecast in sight, it’s time to talk about fall gardening. It probably hasn’t been reflected in most of the pictures on this blog, but if you come to the garden you will see that most of our vine crops are looking old and tired. They will be doing well to make it for another 3-4 weeks in most cases. We are also starting to see what I suspect may be some powdery mildew. Ugh.

Since we have so many vine crops this year, there will be lots of space for fall vegetables. We are almost exclusively starting things indoors this year, rather than trying to direct seed. The reasons for this:

  • It’s still a bit hot to successfully start most of the fall vegetables from seed, especially in combination with…
  • Our very sandy, extremely well-drained soil in the raised beds will make it hard to keep the seeds moist enough to germinate well. Vegetables with tiny seeds like lettuce and carrots are a challenge anyway!
  • Even if we were to plant seeds right along the drip lines, the emitters are still 12″ apart, and I just don’t think we’d get good germination. We may have a challenge getting some of the shallow-rooted fall vegetable transplants established as it is.

So, what are we planting?

We planted 2 varieties of radicchio – a red and a green. We also planted some red bunching onions, one variety of leeks, cilantro, cutting celery, and 5 varieties of lettuce. The lettuce, cilantro, and cutting celery should easily be ready to transplant in about 4 weeks. The onions, leeks, and radicchio…well…we probably should have planted them indoors 2-3 weeks ago. We’re not perfect either! All three vegetables grow very slowly from seed and take several weeks to be large enough to transplant. The radicchio I am expecting to be the fastest of the three…they may be the right size in about 4 weeks. However, radicchio tends to have a very low germination percentage. The packet of brand new seed tested at a 65% germination rate. That’s another great reason to start them inside! We actually double planted the seed, to make sure we got plenty of plants.

I’m looking forward to having some non-heat stressed plants growing for a change!