Saturday, March 13, 2010

Weekly Feature: Parris Island Cos Romaine Lettuce

Cos lettuce also goes by the name Romaine. Cos is at the top of the list when is come to taste, texture and nutritional value. It is also very easy to grow and a must have for every gardener.Parris Island Cos, named after Parris island, South Carolina, NOT the French capital spelled wrong, was developed by the USDS and Clemson in 1952.

You can grow Cos in almost any type of soil as long as it isn't too sandy or too rich. A soil type that holds water is better. Add peat moss to clay soils. Do not mix in rich compost or fertilizers. Too rich of a soil will probably cause rot.

Sow every 14 days to have continuous harvest. Here in Pahrump, Nevada we grow all winter long in wooden wine boxes with glass covers. Begin sowing outdoors 2-3 weeks before the last frost date.
Use a trowel to dig out shallow drills 1/2 inch(1.3cm) deep, each hole being 12 inches (30cm)apart from the next. Sow three or four seeds every 6 inches (15cm)
Cover the seeds with soil, firming it down with gentle pressure. If the soil is at all dry, water well. The seedlings should begin to appear in 7 to 14 days time. Gradually thin out the seedlings until they are 25cm (10in) apart.
Cover the seeds with soil, pressing gently slight pressure. If the soil is dry, water well. The seedlings should begin to appear in 7 to 14 days time.
Thin out gradually so they are 10 inches (25cm)apart. As for maintenance,ample water and weeding are most important. What we do here is place cardboard around the plants to prevent weeds from popping up. The cardboard also breaks down slowly adding nutrients to the soils and feeding the plant through the roots. Use plain colorless corrugated cardboard only.
Besides the obvious reasons you will want to use organic - heirloom seeds only. Collecting seeds to plant following year is a wonderful experience and makes one feels good. The practice of saving seeds has been done by every culture for 1000's of years. Hybrid, GMO or non-organic seeds have been genetically altered to NOT produce crop again. Sad but true.

I found 275 certified organic heirloom seeds for only $1.89 here
Saving lettuce seed is easy. After the flowers die, the plants will eventually form seed heads. They look similar to dandelion seed heads. When these seed heads form, remove the whole seed head from the plant. After the flowers die, you will want to check this regularly before the seeds blow away. Take the seed heads indoors and pluck the seeds from them. You can also remove the white chaff that lets them get blown around, but it isn't absolutely necessary. Set them to dry, and leave them for at least two weeks before storing in a glass jar

Lettuce gone to seed

Shopping from home not only save gas, time and money, but also reduces our carbon footprint, improves the quality of life for everyone by not adding to our traffic problem and allows you more time to do something more important than driving,parking, browsing, waiting in line, walking back to the car and wasting more gas to get home. Imagine how nice it would be if only ups, fedex and us mail trucks were the only ones on our roads...Just sayin' ;)