Sunday, April 30, 2017

The End of Lettuce: A Summary

The first of the lettuces has bolted, signaling the end of lettuce season for this year. After the lettuce bolts its leaves become much more bitter which makes them less tasty for salads, though I can probably still use it with a lot of salad dressing or on a sandwich. I'll pull the other lettuces before they bolt to keep them nice and sweet in the fridge.

This is what bolted lettuce looks like.
The middle stem is now quickly growing a whole bunch of tiny leaves up a stalk
instead of forming one big leaf at a time from the center.

Lettuce bolts right before it starts flowering. Usually this corresponds with the much warmer weather of late May/early June, but this year has been weird and we're in the middle of some 80-90 degree days. The lettuce thinks it's time to flower.

I still have some very juvenile lettuces surrounding one of the cucumbers in a big pot. I'll wait to pull those, as I'm hoping that the deeper soil and larger mass of it might keep the roots cool enough to make it through this warm spell. Maybe they'll make it to maturity before wilting or bolting.

The young'ins. You can see a Green Salad Bowl lettuce variety
in the side of the pot closest to the camera.
Big Buttercrunches in the back.
In summary, the lettuce mix I got from Benkhes was fantastic. I especially liked the Buttercrunch variety in there- they're hardy and have a really great flavor. My second favorite was the Lolla Rossa, though its leaves were a little more delicate it had awesome color contrast and tasted good. The other varieties in the pack were Black Seeded Simpson, Green Salad Bowl, Red Oakleaf, and Rouge d'Hiver. The others also tasted fine, but sometimes didn't have the oomph to get going in a two month span and/or got leggy and paper-thin leaves. This was especially evident with the Green Salad Bowl lettuce. I had only the Green Salad Bowl variety last year and it was the same way- I eventually just pulled up the whole plant in order to use it in salad because picking off leaves left the other leaves flopped over and trailing in the dirt. Next year I'll probably just get a whole packet of the Buttercrunch and Lolla Rossa.

Buttercrunch and Lolla Rossa being fabulous.
I got four or five lunch salads out of these three alone,
with the plants still looking full and pretty after picking.
Grand total probably seven or eight salads after I pull them.

Also weird discovery: the hardware cloth that I used as a cage to keep the squirrels out also helped with keeping dirt off of the leaves of the lettuces. Since I gently pulled the leaves over the top of the hole cut in the cage wire as the plant grew, the leaves all stayed clean and ready to just pick off of the plant and eat as opposed to the ones in the big pot which got gritty and needed washing. (I mean, really you should always wash your lettuce before eating it, but sometimes you just get impatient.)

Some Red Oakleaf in the front there.
All in all this was a great success. I'll now have three empty pots for bush beans and flowers! :D I'll plant lettuce again in the fall.

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