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Loose leaf lettuce, pole bean and snap pea are ideal for early spring planting in many areas.
Lettuce prefers full sun in daytime temperatures of 70° F to 75° F, and may suffer, bolt, or become bitter above 80° F, during longer summer days, and during shorter, colder fall and winter days. At 85° F to 90° F temperatures and above, virtually all varieties of lettuce will suffer, become bitter, or bolt in from a few days to 2 to 3 weeks. To extend harvest, use shade cloth during warm weather, or plant in a location that is shaded during summer afternoons. If you live in a warm area, such as one of California’s inland valleys or other area where spring can be warm, select heat-tolerant and slow-bolting varieties such as Black Seeded Simpson, Salad Bowl Blend, Red Sails, Royal Oak Leaf, and Red Deer Tongue. If you live in a cooler area, such near the California coast, you live in an ideal lettuce-growing area and may select from a wide selection of varieties, including Black Seeded Simpson, Grand Rapids, Red Oakleaf, and Ruby. GardenZeus has complete, customized instructions for growing loose leaf lettuce.
Snap peas are cool-season crops that grow and produce best at temperatures of 55° to 65° F. They tolerate short freezes, which may damage flowers and delay production of pods, but which usually don’t severely damage or kill established plants. The best window for growing snap peas in many areas is early to late spring until daytime temperatures are consistently above 80° F. Overnight frost protection may be necessary in some areas in the form of fabric, plastic, or cardboard sheets. Bush pea varieties are compact plants that take up more soil space than vines, but don’t require support or trellising. Vining varieties generally yield more than bush varieties, but require support. Super Sugar Snap is an improved, earlier variety of Sugar Snap that produces more and larger pods. GardenZeus also recommends Sugar Bon and Cascadia. No garden pea is truly heat tolerant, but Sugar Heart allows a longer harvest season into late spring or early summer. For bush varieties that generally produce smaller, compact, low-growing plants, try Sugar Ann or Sugar Daddy. For snow peas, GardenZeus recommends Oregon Sugar Pod II, a standout disease-resistant, prolific variety; and the heirloom Mammoth Melting Sugar for its sweetness and large pods. GardenZeus has complete, customized information for growing snap and snow peas.
Pole beans are a unique 3-in-1 vegetable with distinct options for cooking and eating at each of 3 main growth stages: immature pods, often called string beans, green beans, or shelling beans; partially mature beans often called green shell or shelling beans; and fully mature beans with seed pods, often called dry beans. Pole beans grow best in full sun with warm-but-not-hot daytime temperatures of about 65° to 85°F, when soil is warm and without risk of frost, and in areas or beds with good drainage. Optimal soil temperature for pole-bean-seed germination is 75° to 95°F. Avoid planting beans in areas or at times where cold air and soil moisture tend to gather, such as at the bottoms of slopes or in depressions. Be cautions with planting beans at times of year when they will be exposed to excessive cold air, wind, or wet soil. Beans will benefit from dappled or partial afternoon shade during hot weather. See GardenZeus Tips for Shading Vegetables During Hot Weather for creative ideas from expert Darren Butler to provide shade. Kentucky Blue, the child of two popular heirloom parents and an All-America Selection in 1991, is a standout variety for its earliness, vigor, disease resistance, and abundant “stringless” yields.Both of Kentucky Blue’s parents are also reliable choices for most gardens: Kentucky Wonder is an early, delicious, productive, heat-tolerant heirloom offering good quality at all three stages of harvest: snap/green, shelling, and drying. Blue Lake is another outstanding, productive, versatile, ‘stringless” heirloom white bean. GardenZeus has complete, customized information for growing pole bean.
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This is an updated version of an article originally published on March 3, 2018.