I had extra lettuce seedlings to plant this spring so I opted to use them to edge one of my perennial beds. The photo at the left shows how these Buttercrunch (Pinetree Garden Seeds) seedlings looked when first transplanted into the ground in early May. Since we have had a wet, cool growing season, this loose-head lettuce still looks good now – photos below – in early July. As an advocate for growing edibles within perennial beds, I’m very pleased with the look.
I’ll pick each head as needed and before each shows signs of going to seed, and may replace these with a late planting of Blushed Butter Oak lettuce from Kitchen Garden Seeds. I tried this lettuce for the first time this year in my vegetable garden – it’s now all harvested. But the curly-edge, red-tinged loose heads of Blushed Butter Oak will make a very nice late summer edging, provided I can find time to start some seedlings of this variety in pots for later transplanting.
Another variety of red lettuce, New Red Fire (Pinetree Garden Seeds) would also work as an attractive edging plant, as you can see in the photo here. I grew New Red Fire in long narrow pots this season and am still picking from these pots for salads. I also planted Oakleaf and Winter Density lettuce varieties (Pinetree Garden Seeds), which I consider two of my staple lettuces.
One of my favorite lettuce “discoveries” this year is Tom Thumb (Pinetree Garden Seeds). I sowed just one planting into a large, shallow pot, and purposely kept the plants densely packed to see how they would hold up. I can only describe the small, crispy, tightly packed heads of Tom Thumb as adorable. The leaves add a wonderful crunch to a salad, and if grown with a little more space, my 3 to 4 inch heads would have spread to about 6 inches in diameter. Again, a second sowing is warranted, and if I manage to get a second crop of Tom Thumb, they would definitely look fantastic sowed between the red-tinged heads of Blushed Butter Oak or New Red Fire.
Inter-planting vegetables with perennials is a wonderful method for increasing the amount of food you can grow in any one season. Doing so also encourages gardeners to look at vegetable plants for their beauty. I have also incorporated bush beans, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, blueberries, and alpine strawberries into my perennial beds – so check back for future posts about theses. Have you planted edibles among your perennials? If so, do share your experiences.