Lettuce Weather

Don’t be mad at me but apparently it is spring here in San Diego, maybe even summer. I know many of you are hunkered down by the woodstove peering wistfully out the window at your cars, roads and, most importantly, gardens covered by a foot of snow, but here in SoCal we’ve been dealing with higher than average temperatures (we broke a 75-year heat record with 86F last week! In February!). Hot, dry Santa Ana winds are blowing in from the desert. My eyes are dry and gritty, my sinuses are killing me. I hear the sound of teeny tiny violins playing for me… oh wait, that’s just you. Smart ass.

Mixed Garden Greens with peppery Nasturtium Flowers
Mixed Garden Greens with peppery Nasturtium Flowers

I know, I’m whining about too much sunshine and I’m sorry but I can’t bear it! While I can’t imagine suffering through a polar vortex the fact remains that I live here because the weather is was perfect. Mornings foggy, days sunny and 72F, cool evenings. That was the agreement. Here by the coast we’ve never seen many days higher than mid-80’s. My dad complains because it’s never “beach weather” when he visits, meaning blazing hot, not a cloud in the sky, the ocean a refreshing 80F, but more and more we are having these so-called beach days and they’re not waiting for summer.

Black Seeded Simpson
Black Seeded Simpson

While the weather here keeps getting warmer, I seem to be heading the other direction. I’ve always considered myself solar-powered but I now prefer it when there’s a little chill in the air. I still LOVE sunshine, but I don’t love heat. (The fact that this change coincided with my disinterest in galloping across the beach in a bikini is purely incidental, by the way.)

Pallet box lettuce garden
Pallet box lettuce garden

This subject came up the other day with a friend who relocated here from Seattle. It wasn’t one of those casual “nice weather we’re having” conversations, it was serious because it has reached the point where Jon and I are considering pulling stakes and moving our tent to cooler climes. I was trying to describe my ideal weather, which is basically sunny and crisp, warm enough during the day without being hot, cooling down at night, dewy in the morning. No snow, some rain and fog appreciated (not too much, thank you) blah blah blah. I go on and on until I realize my friend is looking at me and nodding his head at which point I pause. “Lettuce weather,” he says. That’s it. Two simple, perfect words. Lettuce. Weather.

He is calm (because he is a normal person) but I am ecstatic! He gets it! It’s a thing! I have not been able to get those two words out of my head since I heard them. I posted a photo to Instagram, tagged it #lettuceweather and expected a flurry of activity. Check it out – go there now. Search #lettuceweather. My photo is the only one that shows up! How can this be?? LETTUCE WEATHER! My friend is a freaking genius!

Growing lettuce is fun!
Growing lettuce is fun!

I suppose if you aren’t a gardener maybe the words mean nothing to you, but anyone who grows lettuce will understand immediately. Lettuce is a cool season crop. It likes to be kept moist, it likes a little rain and fog. It likes sunshine but not blazing heat. According to Mother Earth News: “From baby leaf lettuce to big, crisp heads, growing lettuce is easy in spring and fall, when the soil is cool. All types of lettuce grow best when the soil is kept constantly moist, and outside temperatures range between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.” Me too!

Kale also prefers cool, moist weather, though we manage to keep it alive through summer by growing it in a shaded spot. Unfortunately this drought is making the “constantly moist” part of growing all greens a bit difficult, but I’m finding they are pretty resilient as long as they get a cool shower on the hottest days. Hey, me too!

This outrageously gorgeous Ornamental Kale is also edible!
Ornamental Kale is also edible!

So that brings us to the end of my whine-fest and delivers us to the important part of the story, which is our imminent move north. We have fallen in love with the geography, weather, lifestyle and politics of western Sonoma County. We adore all the cute towns with their individual charms and personalities. Sebastopol, Petaluma, Healdsburg, Occidental – any one will do.

We are doing our research and visiting as often as possible. Hopefully within the year we will find ourselves on a sunny and breezy little homestead with a creek, a lush garden and an orchard. We will eat homegrown vegetables, collect fresh eggs, nibble local cheese and sip local wine as we watch the fog roll in over the coastal range and breathe in the cool night air. Once in a while we will cross the orchard to chat with the neighbor over the fence, handing them a basket of fresh picked greens and saying, “Isn’t this wonderful lettuce weather we’re having?”

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. Pat Sherwood says:

    Looking forward to reading about your future move. If I didn’t have family here, California wine country would be my choice in my old age!

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    1. Sheri Fox says:

      It’s so beautiful there isn’t it? Luckily for us our parents are all in the bay area!

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      1. Anonymous says:

        Perfect! I’ll send you a picture my granddaughter took while In Napa, when I find it. So very beautiful.

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  2. Kathy Sturr says:

    Hmmm fresh lettuce from MY garden … cannot wait. I think our summers in North Country are pretty much lettuce weather. (And yes your friend IS a genius!) July and August have the potential to get too hot, but not in the last few years. Of course, there’s about 2-3′ of snow there right now which is why I am down here in Cedar Key FL where it is lettuce weather and Spring. There are even large flocks of Robins. I wish you luck moving – it is exciting and fun but always seems to reach that point where you start shoving things angrily in garbage bags and start screaming just get me BEEP out of here! I hope that doesn’t happen. What butterflies will you tend in your new happy place I wonder.

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    1. Sheri Fox says:

      hahaha I am SO scared for that angrily shoving things part! I know it’s coming. It’s one of things that’s kept us here this long. The welding shop and materials will be a real challenge. Better now while I’m young enough to recover! I think I am anyway. As for butterflies, the northernmost monarch wintering site is right there at Bodega Bay and there’s a butterfly sanctuary near Sebastopol so I have faith that butters will find me. Maybe there will even be some new ones to try! I can’t wait to see what the future holds 🙂

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  3. afarmingartist says:

    The lettuce looks great. I just planted my indoor seeds. In zone 6, we still have snow on the grown.

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    1. Sheri Fox says:

      Thank you 🙂 Have you grown swiss chard? My friend Robbie at Urban Potager grows it right through winter. Apparently it’s snow-hardy!

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      1. afarmingartist says:

        Your’e welcome. I am planting swiss chard for the first time this year.

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        1. Sheri Fox says:

          Oh you’ll love it! I use chard in everything – salad, pasta, frittata, soup – it’s so great to have on hand and so hearty. And the rainbow chard is gorgeous!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I love lettuce weather, too– if it’s warm enough for lettuce, it’s warm enough for me. As soon as it gets too hot, I wanna bolt!!! 😉

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    1. Sheri Fox says:

      haha, very punny! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello, good luck with the hunt. Just an FYI, some of those spots in Sonoma County can get pretty hot in the summer. The fog doesn’t usually get in that far to cool things down. But they are beautiful.
    Sebastopol is very nice and still feels like a small town.

    Traffic in Petaluma (because of the work on 101 that has been going on for over 20 years) is a nightmare. It’s also more of a bedroom community for folks who work in SF. Any commute that goes through there is a mess.

    We have a second home in Fort Bragg, now that’s lettuce heaven! It’s about a mile inland from the coast in Mendocino County.

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    1. Sheri Fox says:

      Thanks for the warnings Liz! All info helps. We arrived in Petaluma yesterday about 3:30 and took the 37 to Lakeside Dr to avoid that 101 backup. Luckily we work from home so we won’t have to hassle much with traffic. At least here there are always alternate routes. Where we live there are few options to bypass the freeway.

      Nice that you have a hideaway in Fort Bragg. We considered that area too but it’s a bit too far from family in the east and South Bay. I do appreciate the warning about the weather. I’m hopeful at least the hot hot will only be in summer. Last week in San Diego it was 91 at the coast! With on overnight low in the 60’s! Blech.

      Wish us luck, meeting realtors this week! 🙂

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