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Riley
01:45PM, 30 Oct 2009
Answer: Dear Riley, I am sure that you are keeping your...
Category: Vegetables & Herbs
Expert
01:45PM, 30 Oct 2009
Kirsten
My lettuces are very bitter and my "sweet" vegies very bland ... what is missing from my soil? PH is OK

We love our rocket it has heaps of bite,and our chillies will knock your socks off! but I've tried a wide variety of lettuces and they are all very bitter (as are my cucumber this year, although they weren't last year). My carrots and beetroot are very bland and I've had little success with growing onions and leeks. My PH is a little alkaline but only just and I'm wondering if there is a trace element missing from my soil.

Submitted: 10:56PM, 20 Jan 2011
Answer: Dear Kirsten.

To start with the pH should ideally be 6.0 – 6.5 and the soil should be friable and one that absorbs moisture but drains readily. You may need to lower the pH in your soil if your soil is too alkaline.

Lettuce is naturally a cool season crop but there are a number of varieties that will cope with the warmer summer weather. As we love to grow our lettuce for our summer salads the seed can be sown from early Spring to early February. You will need to prepare your garden beds with plenty of organic matter as well as adding some pre-planting fertiliser raked into the soil. Keep a mulch on the soil to retain moisture and water regularly during the warm weather. To keep the young plants healthy and growing strongly, apply a nitrogen fertiliser such as Thrive Soluble Fertiliser every ten to fourteen days. You can pick your lettuce early when the hearts are just forming. They will be nice and sweet at this stage.

As for the rest of the vegetables in your garden not performing to your liking, I would suggest that you add plenty of organic matter to improve the structure and water holding capacity of the soil. Keep your plants regularly watered and don’t allow the soil to dry out. Apply a soluble or liquid fertiliser during the growing period of your crop to maintain nutrient availability. Good luck. I am sure you will be able to produce vegetables you will be happy to eat and consume.

‘Great Lakes’ is a large, sure-hearting variety for growing in summer. ‘Winter Triumph’ iswa large cool-weather variety for winter cutting. ‘Mignonette’ is a old garden favourite and can be grown all year round in many climates.

Answered: 02:19PM, 04 Mar 2011

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