Keeping Spring’s Promise from Fading

by: Aidan Feeney

photography by: Natasha Feeney

The dog days of summer: The weather is humid, downtown is gridlocked and the lettuce and radishes you planted in June have long since been eaten or gone to flower. Your tomato plants are going strong, with a promising crop of green tomatoes sizing up. Your cucumber crop is peaking and you’re harvesting more than you can eat, but the basil has flowered and your arugula is knee high and stemmy.

If that sounds about right, then your garden is facing a critical moment. It is time to plant crops you want a constant supply of, and start to plant heat-tolerant crops and varieties for the high days of summer. It is also the right time to start planting slower-growing fall crops.

Our columnist on his farm.

Salad days
Growing salad greens during the hottest months of the summer is a challenge for even the most experienced of gar-deners. The heat and humidity causes lettuce and arugula to bolt and turn bitter very quickly.

Luckily, Nantucket’s mild summer temperatures make this less of an extreme challenge, but it’s still something that takes some strategy. For a reliable harvest of lettuce through July and August, you should be growing the Batavia variety. Batavia lettuces, also known as summer crisps or French crisps, are big-head lettuces with curly leaves that are sweet and crunchy.

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