For those of us in the (north) Northern hemisphere, summer is definitely drawing to a close. I’m picking the last of the tomatoes, and pulling up my pepper plants. I’m discovering the cute little house I rented may be amazingly cheap because I can’t actually close any of the windows. I’m planting spinach, lettuce, and cilantro, since they are long day plants.
For those of you who are not garden nerds, “Long day” is a short-hand way of indicating how plants are dependent on photoperiodism for signals about when it’s time to create flowers. Long day plants bloom when the day length is long–like mid-summer. (Technically, it’s more correct to say they bloom when nights are short, but let’s not get technical and wonky for now.)
So, if lettuce is a long-day plant, why am I planting it in the fall? Since I want to harvest the leaves, I plant it out of season, to get more vegetative growth. If you try to grow lettuce or cilantro in mid-summer, what you end up with is an unexpectedly christmas-tree shaped lettuce with flowers at the top. It’s trying to bloom, and so “bolts” and gets tall and thin. And bitter, too.
I’m putting the hose away, bringing in my hoe, and trying to find where I packed my sweaters before I moved. The days are definitely shorter, and it’s harder to get up in the dark.
What is your sign of Fall and changing photoperiods? How are you getting ready for the change of seasons?