My lettuce didn't do very well last year so I'm trying something different. I'm experimenting with using containers for growing lettuce. I found these containers at Dollar Tree for a dollar each and used my craft drill for drilling holes in the bottom of the containers, then shaped rubber wire in arch shape to support the garden cloth canopies which let in sun, air, water and keeps out birds and (most, not all) bugs -- the garden cloth canopies are held in place by large rubber bands. The last few weeks of May were gloomy and cool, perfect for starting lettuce and they're growing well so far. One part of the experiment will be moving these portable gardens to cooler areas in the shade as the temperature gets higher, either on our back patio, along the west side of the privacy fence which gives shade in the afternoon, or on front porch which is shaded all the time. Some of the different lettuces I've planted:
Sweet Valentine Romaine from Southern Exposure Seeds - 55 days, the sweetest flavored lettuce, heads hold long into the heat without bolting, extremely deep red leaves are slightly smaller than other cos varieties.
Tom Thumb, Bibb Butterhead from Southern Exposure Seeds - 48 days, Pre-1850, Space-saving miniature butterhead, apple-sized head can be used whole in individual salads, tender leaves are medium-green and crumpled.
Mesclun Mix from Seed Savers Exchange, Territorial Seeds, & our own from mixing some of these seeds.
Jericho from Freedom Seeds, Southern Exposure or Seeds of Change - 60 days, Israeli introduction, Bred for desert heat, Jericho thrives in our hot summers. The tall (24"), heavy, light green heads retain their sweetness even when other lettuces have gone bitter or gone to seed. Good tipburn resistance, a favorite among market growers.
Yugoslavian Red Butterhead from Southern Exposure Seeds - 58 days, heirloom from a peasant family in Marburg, Yugoslavia. Introduced in 1987 by SESE, red tinged leaves form heads 10" across, interior leaves are quite pretty: creamy yellow-green dappled with red, succulent with a buttery flavor, decorative and tasty lettuce, ideal for garnishes.
Green Oak Leaf from Seed Savers Exchange - 50 days, known as Baltimore or Philadelphia Oakleaf in the 1880s, resistant to hot weather, long-standing, never bitter, excellent quality even in late summer, Looseleaf.
Webb's Wonderful from Seed Savers Exchange - 65-70 days, English crisphead type, stands well in heat. Very large and robust heads with crumpled leaves. Fine distinct flavor and good texture. Slow to bolt, holds at market stage well, recommended for planting in the South.