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Using lettuce seed to crowd out weeds and make a vegetable garden polyculture  RSS feed

 
rachael hamblin
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I've heard of folks throwing lettuce seeds in between their other plants in a vegetable garden to fill in the niche weeds usually take up so you have edible weeds.  Seems like a great idea in some ways, however, I'm wondering if this would crowd the other plants and impede their growth.  Any thoughts?
 
paul wheaton
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It depends.

I think lettuce has shallow roots (not sure about this), so if the lettuce were to grow next to something with a tap root that is a little taller, I think it would probably be rather fine. 

Plus, there are a lot of things that just seem to do better planted next to lettuce.  Check out companion planting stuff.
 
Kelda Miller
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oh like this?

This picture is from marisha auerbach's old garden outside of olympia. lettuce continually came up and she would just transplant it every so often to best spaces for it.

i'm experimenting with lettuce in my 'perennial salad' bed, hoping that the annual will reseed itself and thus earn its keep among the perennials.
 
rachael hamblin
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Thanks for the input guys, I think I'll give it a go later in the season once the other plants are established.  It's funny you bring up Marisha Auerbach Kelda, that's who I originally got the idea from

I just visited my folks this weekend and saw some very happy mizuna growing in the front yard, the offspring of some I planted for them last spring... so the "perennial" salad idea is apparently doable.

While I'm at it, there's a green I've been desperate to remember the name of for the last few months, it has fairly dark green rounded leaves with white stems, spicy like mustard greens, has a strange sounding name that I think starts with a T...might be a Z in there somewhere...anyone know what it is?  It's delicious and I'd like to grow some this year. 
 
Kelda Miller
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Tatsoi?
 
rachael hamblin
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Yes!  Thank you. 
 
Dave Boehnlein
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Location: Orcas Island, WA
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I agree with the recommendation to interplant other veggies with lettuces (or radishes, asian greens, cilantro, etc.) that you will harvest earlier. I always like to think of one type of veggie in a bed as my primary target product (e.g. broccoli, parsnips, rutabagas, zucchini, etc.). I also like to have other companion plants (like lettuce to suppress weeds) in the bed, but I'm never hesitant to remove them if they seem to be negatively affecting the target product. Thus, if I had a bed of brussel sprouts interplanted with head-lettuce, I would harvest the lettuce early if it seemed to be shading out the brussel sprouts. In general I would recommend low-growing, quick harvest interplanting species.

That's just my take. For me, filling in all those spaces between your baby veggies goes hand-in-hand with our Permaculture goal of focusing on small-scale, INTENSIVE systems. If we can meet our lettuce needs in a smaller area by interplanting them, I'm all for it.

Also, letting a couple lettuces go to seed (like Maurisha has done) is a great idea. It's like having a little nursery right in the garden that you can transplant from and fill in all your empty spaces.

Dave
 
Al Freeman
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Location: North Texas plaines
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I concur wholeheartedly with this caveat:  You have to figure out a way to keep the chickens out of the garden, because the 'ladies' will eat ALL your salad greens as soon as they sprout through the soil.  The flip side to that "problem" is actually a plus, however:  GREAT tasting eggs!
 
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