Little Gem Lettuces Race Out the Gate

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Little Gems, meet your new view, the mid-winter Portland cityscape.


Today, under winter’s cloudy skies, but reasonably warm nonetheless (snowless, too; sorry, NY, DC, etc), I planted lettuce starts on the rooftop…the very same that I started a mere 25 days ago in my January 1st ritual seeding to augur in a good new year.  Normally I’m not too selective about what lettuces I plant for New Year’s; I just try to use up last year’s seed before the annual re-order, so it was by lucky chance that I had some extra Little Gem seed available.  Not only is this half-pint Romaine one of the cutest darn little veggies you can grow, it also happens to be one of the fastest.  Thus I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was cruising right along in my grow room last week looking ready for action outdoors, and today I was happy to oblige.


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I like to think of those little leaves as green hands waving good bye, telling me that they’ll be just fine.


Now I’m no greenhorn gardener who thinks that Nature must follow my planting whims, New Year’s ritual or not.  Rather it is I who must bend to its great dictates, and so I am totally prepared to get slapped in the face by a bracing cold, prepared to accept that my dear Little Gems might perish from my hubris to throw them premature into the soil.  I wasn’t a total egomaniac, however, and I did have some thought for their plight…I  gave them a Reemay blanket. Reemay, the lightweight polyethelene garden fabric, is good for a few degrees of frost protection should winter’s chill finger return.


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Reemay is a security blanket for cool-season veggies.  It lets light and water through, so you just set it and forget it.  It’s other name of floating row cover gives a clue that it won’t cramp the lettuces’ style.  They just push it up as they grow.


Still, I am a gambling man, and I have experienced winter shortening and gentling over the years, so I am willing to take a risk with an extra early lettuce plant out.  Plus, if they perish, I have more coming up in the grow room, and eventually they, and I, will prevail!

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