Secrets for successful greens

mindfulmamaJune 30, 2013

So tonight I went out to the garden--the first time this week since we have had little break in wet weather--and pulled my bed of greens only to find that all of them are bitter. I'm not sure if I waited too long. I didn't allow any to bolt, mulched them and planted them with the hope of some shade but my beans weren't able to provide shade quick enough. But this really isn't the first time as I have always had difficulty planting greens, with the exception of kale and spinach.
Since gardening my kids have become veggie lovers, but I haven't converted them to liking fresh greens yet. Is there any way to grow greens successfully in the summer?

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pnbrown

"greens" doesn't mean much other than the leafy part of plants. What crop are you talking about? lettuce, chard, mustard, or what....

It also is always helpful or in some cases necessary to know where the drama is taking place - what region?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 8:45PM
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highwaygardener(5)

I read that the secret to non-bitter lettuce is even, regular watering. Don't let it completely dry out in between waterings. It has worked for me so far.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 8:58PM
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Masbustelo

Try planting greens for fall or winter harvest depending on your zone. Also Swiss Chard is an awesome green that can be harvested all summer long.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 9:18PM
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mindfulmama

Sorry I didn't mention what type of greens. I planted chicory, little gem, arugula, red loose leaf and Jericho romaine. Also I am in zone 5. I have had great success with swiss chard, beet greens, spinach and kale; however, lettuce has proven more difficult.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 11:41PM
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myluck(5 In)

I have purslane all over the place. Some people call it a weed. I call it salad. I don't have to plant it and it grows anywhere spring and summer. Grows fast, bugs don't bother it, and more nutritious than spinach. And it is kind of fun to see the look on people's faces when you bend down, pull a weed and eat it.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 12:13AM
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pnbrown

It will be helpful for you generally to get familiar with crop families.

For example, kale is a non-specific descriptor for various cultivars of the Brassica family. Anything called "kale" is closely related to broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprout, and very distantly related to lettuce or chard or beet. Lettuce is closer to dandelion than to spinach. Spinach, chard and beet are in the same family as red-rooted pigweed (amaranth) and goosefoot.

The point of this is that a specific phenomenon such as bittering lettuce is probably not connected to a problem with some other distantly-related crop.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 7:57AM
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mindfulmama

"The point of this is that a specific phenomenon such as bittering lettuce is probably not connected to a problem with some other distantly-related crop."

I didn't feel that there was a connection between my bitter lettuce and my other "greens". I suppose in my haste as I posted I didn't take the time to explain that the bed of greens I was referring to was strictly lettuce. The kale, swiss chard, spinach are growing elsewhere and still not yet ready for harvest and my mention of those was in response to Masbustelo. Sorry for the confusion. I have short bursts of time when the kids are occupied elsewhere and I need to learn to be more concise with my posts.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 9:04AM
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NilaJones(7b)

Oh, so the bitterness is just in lettuce?

I don't know a lot about that, but hope to learn from others here who do :). I haven't usually grown lettuce.

I did plant some last fall, though. By spring it was picking size, and not bolting at all. But it was bitter! So it seems age is a factor, not just life cycle. Here in the PNW, an even steady dampness and cool temps were easy to provide ;).

I'm now growing some as a summer crop, in 75% shade. I water intermittently (they sometimes wilt), and I pick each head as it begins to bolt; they are not bitter. I haven't yet tasted the last few plants, though -- and this past week has been HOT.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 1:57AM
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pnbrown

OK, so if we substitute "lettuce" for "greens" in your OP it becomes a lot more clear what the problem is.

Maybe one of the most-asked questions here, and I'd also like to know the solution!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 7:03AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Nevada is a lettuce which grows well into the heat of summer without bolting. It has good substance, which I like. Nevada is a Batavian type lettuce, aka French crisp or summer crisp.

Jim

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 11:54AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Deleting duplicate post.

This post was edited by jimster on Thu, Jul 4, 13 at 11:58

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 11:57AM
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NilaJones(7b)

@Jim: How is it for bitterness?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 2:55PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I grew Nevada for the first time this year. Planted it in February and harvested the last of it the second week of June. By then, the temps were in the high 80s and even low 90s: no bitterness even then. It is the most delicious lettuce I have ever grown. That being said, I did not replant, since I am very cynical about any lettuce surviving my hot summers. I most certainly will plant it again in late September and hopefully enjoy it throughout the entire winter and spring. This past winter, I had several varieties of romaine, in addition to Buttercrunch. I didn't plant enough. Used them up in early January. But still, that's the trade-off for our unbearably hot July and August.

If anyone in zone 7B or 8 knows of a lettuce that can survive our heat and humidity, I'd sure like to hear about it!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 4:31PM
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brittanyw(8a)

I've heard Jericho is also highly heat-tolerant, coming from Israel. I'm planning to try it for the first time this fall, so I don't know about its (non-)bitterness, though.

This post was edited by brittanyw on Thu, Jul 4, 13 at 17:24

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 5:23PM
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planatus(6)

With greens it's best to go with the seasonal swings. Spring salad greens come and go quickly due to lengthening days. I pulled my last lettuce this week, and the spinach and mustard bolted two weeks ago. Now it's up to the chard to hold us until I get new lettuce seedlings up in August under a cloth shade cover. Then fall will bring more greens than we can eat and freeze.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 7:00PM
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NilaJones(7b)

I went out and tasted my last remaining lettuces after posting. Yep, the heat wave this past week has made them bitter. I might leave them to set seed.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 3:26AM
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