It's the strangest things; peppers and tomatoes are wonderful in salads, but at that time of year the lettuce is unavailable. We've tried year after year to grow good greens for summer salads and the "slow bolting" varieties still end up in seed by June.
We've had good success with chards but some more variety would be great. Do ya'll have any ideas?
Realizing that there's quite a difference in my climate and yours, there are a few tricks that you can try if you haven't already.
There's a trick called 'Cut and Come Again' with leaf lettuce. As soon as the outer leaves get about 4 inches long, cut them off, leaving the inner leaves to grow. It's supposed to prevent the plant from thinking it's mature enough to bolt.
Also, if you plant the lettuce in the shade of taller plants, or in amongst your tomato plants, the other plants will offer the lettuce some shade when it gets hot.
Also, lots and lots of water will help also, and also help prevent the bitterness leaf lettuce sometimes takes on in the heat of summer.
As far as varieties, I've only had luck with Black Seeded Simpson and Romaine.
Hopefully someone else will have some more ideas. I'd be interested to learn more also.
There is a great heat tolerant variety that was bred in Israel called "Jericho". I grew it for the first time last year and it really held up great in our summer weather. (I first saw it the year before at our farmers' mkt, being sold by a fellow vendor; he was gracious enough to let me in on his 'summer lettuce'!)
Johnny's Seeds also sells a variety called "Summer Crisp" (comes in both green and red) which is a smallish loose-head type (bigger than the Tom Thumb varieties but not as big as Red Sails loosehead types).
As for planting in the shade, that helps up to a certain point by keeping the direct sun off the plants but once air temperatures are consistently warm the lettuces will still bolt. (I've often thought of planting an ice cube in the hole when I set out plants but for some reason don't think that will work unless I continually side-dress with more of them. *grin)
Yes, the Red Orach is eaten raw and tastes a bit like a cross between spinach and chickory - Thomas Jefferson grew it and when we visited Monticello some years back, it was the blistering heat of the summer and they were doing very nicely :)
I had a great salad garden this year.. a first for me, lol
I planted the usual romaine lettuce, a mesclum mix, buttercrunch lettuce and a marvelous red romaine lettuce.
I planted beets and 'rainbow' swiss chard too.
At picking time, every plant (including the baby beet greens and swiss chard) was pinched for a leaf or two (or three...) constant harvest kept them wondering and growing. Harvest constantly, even if you have to toss stuff onto the compost heap..