Hot Weather Protection For Lettuce

We are now entering the “Three H” (Hazy, Hot & Humid)” stage of the year and cool weather crops such as lettuce will bolt (go to seed) if they are not protected from the heat.  I’ve found I can extend my lettuce for another few weeks if I give it shade during the heat of the day.   I plant about three feet of lettuce (maybe a dozen plants) every five or six weeks and the lettuce I want to protect now was planted in April.  It’s at its peak of succulent perfection but will be toast soon in our 90º+ weather.  I’ll plant the rest of the lettuce this season in natural shade; between tomato plants and in the middle of my pole bean teepees.

To provide shade for my early lettuces and other cool weather crops, I devised a simple, inexpensive shade contraption from PCV plumbing piping found at the local home improvement big box store.  With four four-foot lengths of pipe, two tee connectors, some pipe cement, two 48″ plastic stakes and a sheet of plastic lattice cut in half, I got away quite cheaply and the arrangement has lasted many years.

1.  After assembly (fitting the pipes into the tee connectors and cementing them), pound the two tee pipe assemblies into the ground firmly at either end of the row, then lay the two stakes across and lash them to the tee.

Pound the post in firmly and lash the cross pieces to the frame.

Pound the post in firmly and lash the cross pieces to the frame.

2.  Lay one half of the lattice over the frame created by the tee and the stakes and lash it to the tee assembly.

Lash half of the lattice securely to the frame.

Lash half of the lattice securely to the frame.

3.  Lay the other half of the lattice on top of the first and lash it loosely to the first, keeping it loose enough to allow you to slide the secions over one another to vary the light getting through.

Tie the other half of the lattice loosely over the first so it can be moved about to adjust the size of the openings.

Tie the other half of the lattice loosely over the first so it can be moved about to adjust the size of the openings.

If you feel it will be extremely hot you can lay some summer-weight row covering over the whole thing and give it even more shade.

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