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Diggers Rest, Issue #009 --Luscious Lettuce, Aubergine Scallop recipe
October 11, 2005

A free monthly resource of gardening tips, recipes and reminders to make your garden grow!


October 11, 2005 Issue #09

Hello

The no dig garden website is a venture into publishing on a topic I love. Thanks for joining me on the adventure! I'd love to have your feedback.
Just reply to this newletter.

In this issue:

1) Growing Luscious Lettuce
2) In the garden this month
3) Recipe: Aubergine Scallops


Luscious Lettuce

Lettuce is one of the most rewarding things to grow in your garden. It can be grown quickly and enjoyed daily. Lettuce will grow in many parts of the world over long periods of the year with just a few considerations.

Lettuce needs cool weather and moist conditions to do well. It will grow in a garden bed or containers as long as it has enough room. Most varieties need 6-8" between plants and if in a container, one that is 8-10" deep. It must be kept moist and will respond well to compost initially and fertilising every 2-3 weeks.

There are four main types of lettuce to grow.

  • Head lettuce: This is the most common type found in the supermarket and familiar to all. However, it's also the most tempermental when grown in the home garden. It takes the longest to grow and in hot weather will bolt to seed very quickly.
  • Butterhead lettuce: Similar to head lettuce but with smaller, more loosely packed leaves.
  • Leaf Lettuce: These types have open growth leaves. There is wide variety of type, shape, taste and colour available in leaf lettuce. It matures quickly and is easy to grow. These are often referred to as 'cut and come again' varieties.
  • Romaine or Cos Lettuce: These plants are sweet with big, crunchy leaves. They grow upright with tubular heads of leaves and can get up to 10" tall.
  • If you want to grow from seed, plants should be started in seed beds first. Lettuce seeds are tiny, so once they start to germinate, you will need to thin dramatically.

    Stagger their starts by a week or two to ensure a continuous supply once they're growing. During this time, think about where you are going to grow them to maturity.

    Conditions:

  • They need lots of watering and fertilising, so have them planted close to the house if possible. Watering in the early morning gives best results. If plants are damp overnight, this will invite disease.
  • Optimum temperature is between 45F-65F for growing. If it gets hotter than that, plant them where they will get morning sun only or will be well shaded during the hottest part of the day. If it gets cooler than that, plan to have a garden cloche on hand to protect them overnight.
  • Don't let the plants overmature in the garden. They will become bitter if overmature. For Leaf lettuce, start cutting leaves as soon as they are large enough to eat. Cut 1-2" above the soil line preferrably with scissors. The plant will respond by sending up new leaves quickly.
  • Lettuce plants do not need to be pollinated to crop, so they can be protected from birds and insects by nets or floating row covers.
  • There are both cold resistant and heat resistant lettuce varieties available. Speak to your local nursery about what is suitable in your area.


    In the Garden This Month

    Northern Hemisphere:

    Finish off the last growth on your herb plants, if they're not already finished and dry them for storage.

    If you're not planning a winter crop cover your beds with 1/4" of newspaper (black and white ink only) and top up the mulch. Then give it a good soaking. This will allow the material underneath to continue rotting but discourage weeds from coming up.

    Preserve the last of the summer harvest to enjoy during the winter months.

    Southern Hemisphere:

    Get those seedlings in, right now. It's perfect for them.

    If you are in a hot zone and have trouble with your tomato plants wilting in the sun, try cherry tomatoes. They handle the heat well.

    Seedlings do best in the no dig garden and allow for more intensive planting. So prepare your beds, but wait for your plants to become stronger before putting them in.


    Feature Recipe: Aubergine Scallops

    This is a great starter or vegetable dish to accompany the main.

    2-3 aubergines (eggplants) sliced
    100g plain flour
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    2 eggs, beaten
    150ml (2/3 cup) milk
    salt
    Oil for deep frying
    tartare sauce for dipping

    Slice the aubergine into 1/4" thick slices. Place in a collander, salt and let drain for about 10 minutes. Then rinse and dry well.

    In a bowl, sift the flour and cayenne pepper together. Add the eggs and gradually beat into the flour. Slowly add milk while continuing to beat the mixture until you have a smooth batter. Add the aubergine slices, cover and allow to sit for about 15 minutes.

    Heat the oil in a pan until a cube of bread will brown in 1 minute. Add the aubergine slices one at a time and fry to a golden brown. Drain them on paper towel when they come out of the oil. Serve immediately with tartare sauce for dipping. Yummy!


    Happy Gardening!

    Judy Williams

    Copyright J.L. Williams 2005

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