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Tough, beautiful and tasty: lettuce likes some chill

Written by Doug Oster on .

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I'm often greeted with quizzical looks when I tell gardeners that I've already started planting. “There's got to be more frost to come,” they say. And yes there will be months of cool weather, the trick is to plant things that thrive in the cold.

These Red Sails lettuce plants were covered in frost this morning, but no worries; they brush it off without missing a beat. Just about every nursery has some nice-sized lettuce plants for sale.

The dark red leaves will be ready for harvest in just a few weeks out of the vegetable garden, but they can also be planted as an ornamental. I've planted containers with the plants; when they get big, I'll just pull them out for the kitchen, and then replant the container with flowers.

There will be at least six sowings of lettuce seed over the season and last year I harvested some on Christmas Eve. Some of the fall planted lettuce wintered over. If they can survive winter, a spring frost won't bother them.

The garden is also filled with peas, radishes, spinach, arugula, broccoli and other tough veggies.

Not only will these plants survive cool temperatures, they actually need them to produce the sweetest and most tender results.

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