Old crop and newly planted crop in the hoop house

In my last post I mentioned I was planning on planting some seeds in the hoop house since the soil temperature warmed up so nicely in there.

I ended up planting about a third of the space with round red radishes, french slicing radishes, bib lettuce, a leaf lettuce salad combination, two varieties of spinach and a couple varieties of scallions.

When I went into the hoop house to move aside the inner plastic covering, I was surprised to see several lettuce plants growing. They were the same ones I gave up for dead a few weeks ago.

Since they are already growing, they have a big head start compared to the seeds I just planted. I decided to leave them in place and nurse them along thinking, “may as well harvest them for salad since I really don’t need the extra room right now”.

A few lettuce plants over-wintered. You can see the original leaves that froze back during the winter.

A few lettuce plants over-wintered. You can see the original leaves that froze back during the winter.

At this stage of growth, those lettuce plants will act like a biennial instead of an annual plant.

Biennials are plants that need two growing seasons to complete their life cycle.

A complete plant life cycle starts with a seed that grows into a plant, the plant flowers, then produces more seeds.

Since biennials need two seasons to complete their life cycle, they grow the first season then go dormant through the winter. They start growing again in the spring, then flower and produce their seeds. Once the seeds are produced, those original plants die and the life cycle starts over again.

Beets, onions, carrots and most of the cabbage family of plants are all biennials. Foxglove, pansies and hollyhocks are common biennial flowers.

I have seen this type of thing happen before after a mild winter. Usually the lettuce plants will make some growth, then quickly flower and begin to produce seeds.

I’ll just help them grow as much as possible and harvest them when they’re big enough to eat– before they decide to start making seeds.┬áBecause once they begin to flower and begin producing seeds, they will lose their flavor.




Bob Dluzen
As a result of being a gardener for more than 40 years, 30 of those as a professional, Bob's gardening has become an integral part of his life. "It's the ever-changing seasons and the wide variety of plants and gardens that keeps me intrigued," he says. Bob lives and gardens in rural Monroe County.