vegetable growing techniques
growing Lettuces in summer
Many gardeners see lettuce as a summer vegetable but in fact it grows better in the cooler months of spring and autumn.  In summer it bolts very quickly and the leaves have a tendency to take on a bitter flavour as soon as they mature.  However there are a few things you can do to improve the quality of your summer lettuces.  

Natural shading  
Lettuces growing in the shade of mature asparagus leaves.  The bird netting is to stop sparrows eating the lettuces.  

Lettuce under 50% shadecloth.  The cloth is held up with a temporary frame made of high density polypipe.    

Baby lettuces growing in a self-watering pot.  

In summer lettuces only need about five hours of direct sunlight each day.  Lettuces grown in semi shade during the summer months will remain sweeter for longer and are slower to go to seed. Suggested shady sites are the south side of your house or under shady trees.  When growing them in your main vegetable patch plant them in the shade of larger vegetables such as corn or staked tomatoes.  

Artificial shading  
Another shading option is to cover your lettuces with 50% shadecloth.  While it can be removed on cloudy days I usually leave the lettuce patch in my vegetable garden permanently under shadecloth during the summer months.  

Grow heat tolerant lettuce varieties
Some lettuce varieties do better in hotter weather than others. 

Below are the pros and cons of some lettuces I have grown in summer.

Recommended to grow in summer
Little Gem: Retains its sweet flavour long after other lettuce varieties have turned bitter.

Butterhead: Retains its sweet flavour for longer, though not as long as Little Gem.

Cos: More resistant to warm weather fungal diseases such as powdery mildew.
Not recommended to grow in summer

Great Lakes: More prone to fungal diseases in warm weather. Red and Green Oak Leaf: Turns bitter very quickly.  Best grown in spring and autumn unless grown as baby lettuces.  

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