Lettuce, Before and After Solstice | Chow | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
The Source Weekly’s reporting is made possible by the power of your support. Be a part of it!
Pin It

Lettuce, Before and After Solstice 

Now's your last chance to sow quick-growing, heat-tolerant plants, as well as cold-loving crops

The summer solstice is in the rear-view mirror. Even though the hottest days are before us, the longest days are past. If you haven't planted your tomatoes or melons yet, you might not bother. The plants will grow like steroid abusers, but there isn't time for the fruit to ripen. Or maybe you'll get one small melon. Trust me, I've been there.

But there is a silver lining to the inevitable cooling. This is the beginning of the fall gardening season. It's your last chance to sow quick-growing, heat-tolerant plants like peas, beans and cucumbers, and time to start sowing your cold-loving crops like lettuce, spinach, beets, broccoli, mustard, cabbage, collards, carrots, kale and radishes, which can live well into winter. So if you're willing to cover your greens with blankets and even build cold frames around them, you can coax a four-season harvest out of most planting zones. For more details on four season farming, consult the books of Eliot Coleman, of Four Season Farm in Maine, who eats local salad all year long and has written several books, including Four Season Harvest. And if you think you want to give it a shot, by all means plant now and read later!

On the heel of the summer solstice, the salad days of summer are upon us. - ARI LEVAUX
  • Ari LeVaux
  • On the heel of the summer solstice, the salad days of summer are upon us.

For newbie gardeners who may or may not want to try the winter gardening thing, a fall garden is a final shot at redemption. If your corn isn't going to be knee high by the 4th of July, or your tomatoes will still be green when the frost hits, or if you haven't even gotten around to digging up your garden, or you're otherwise behind the ball, you might be ready to try again this fall. Starting now, I think I mentioned?

For experienced gardeners, planting the fall garden is a second spring's worth of work, with all of the excitement that goes with it. Yes, it's another garden chore to add to the weeding, watering and harvesting of summer. But this is also the beginning of a whole new, cold weather garden that could be babied long after the winter solstice, and into the lengthening days. It's cause for celebration.

The reason to wait until summer solstice before planting winter greens is that the pre-solstice lengthening days can cause many leafy plants to bolt, which is something like when a human hits puberty. Changes happen. Irreversible changes, not all of them good. Changes in size, shape and flavor. The plant essentially becomes a long, central flowering stalk, and the leaves get pointy and develop extra-bitter flavor. Now that solstice has passed, you can sow your fall greens, either by direct seed or by planting little starts, without risk of them bolting.

Every seven years, the summer solstice falls on Father's Day, and both days make me think of lettuce. Solstice, of course, because it divides the spring and fall seasons of lettuce, and Father's Day because my dad used to make the most amazing lettuce salad. We would go into a meditative state as he prepared it, patting down each leaf with a paper towel. He'd store leftover washed leaves wrapped in paper towels too. He'd serve his salad in these beautiful wooden bowls. It was super garlicky and everybody loved it.  It's perfect as a salad and also quite handy as a condiment of sorts. If you happen to be chewing a glorious morsel of food, perhaps fatty, perhaps meaty, a bite of marinated onions, lettuce and tomato can, and usually does, add to the experience.

Dad's Salad

This is the salad I grew up eating, and the ultimate side salad.
Serves 2-4, depending on one's salad intake

1 head romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon salt
2 tomatoes, sliced for salad
Olives and feta to taste

For the dressing
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
Toss the chopped lettuce, tomatoes and onions with the garlic and salt. Let sit for 20 minutes.
Mix the dressing vigorously and dress, tossing as lightly as possible. Garnish with olives and feta.

Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Youth Leadership Project @ Elk Lake

Youth Leadership Project @ Elk Lake - Elk Lake Resort

Mon., July 26
Submitting an event is free and easy.

Newsletter Signup

Get Central Oregon daily news
directly in your inbox

Get Social

Latest in Chow

More by Ari Levaux

  • Put the Ravish in the Radish

    Put the Ravish in the Radish

    Lightly roasting those radishes offers a new take on a prolific spring veggie
    • Jun 9, 2021
  • Thrill of the Grill

    Thrill of the Grill

    Why heat up the oven on a hot day, when grilling pizza outdoors will do?
    • Jun 2, 2021
  • Boba Blockage

    Boba Blockage

    A key ingredient in bubble tea is in short supply. We know it's tough—but here's what to try instead
    • Apr 28, 2021
  • More »

Want to advertise with us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here

© 2021 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA AVE, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation