Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Bolting Lettuces

It's time to ditch my windowsill grown lettuces
I returned from holiday to find lots of my lettuces have started to bolt. It's due to a combination of the recent heat, the longer daylength and my having too many lettuces growing to keep them thoroughly picked to their central core.

It's too late to save my pictured 'Amaze' lettuces. A quick nibble on a leaf showed they're too bitter for eating. As these are windowsill grown, I'm not going to save their seed - NAH has been most tolerant of my growing activities, but I think seeding lettuces in the bedroom might be beyond his limit!

Outside I'm keeping my non-bolted lettuces well picked and well watered and I've moved the potted ones to a much shadier part of the garden*. These measures should help prevent my remaining lettuces from doing what comes naturally. As soon as they start growing upwards then I'll have to decide which are going straight to the compost bin and if any are worth saving for seed. So far, Black Seeded Simpson, Freckles, Marveille de Quatre Saisons and the iceberg varieties are resisting the urge to bolt the most.

It's really too hot at the moment to sow their replacements (lettuce doesn't germinate well if soil temperatures are above 25oC), but I'm going to have a go at sowing some later in the day and keeping the seed trays in the coolest, shadiest part of the garden to let the seeds take advantage of the cooler nights. If this doesn't work, then I'll simply wait until next month to get my next batch of lettuces going. NB it's also time to sow a variety of non-lettuce leaves ready for late summer/autumn picking.

Have you found any particular lettuce varieties which are less reluctant to bolt? It would be great to compile a list of them for future reference :)

* = or you could use some netting to shade them if moving's not an option.

10 comments:

  1. I would love a list of these lettuces...I will also have to wait as we are still in the tropical weather zone right now.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Donna anything you and your fellow garden bloggers can do to add to the list would be great. I don't think there's much of a variety overlap between our sides of the pond? Or we do have an overlap, just different names!

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  2. Red Salad Bowl hasn't been too bad for me. But it is also my favourite (love the colour on the plate) so it does tend to get well picked.
    It's so difficult to find the right balance between having too many plants and too few. After last year's wash out & slugfest, I've now gone for overproduction, so I'm having more wastage this year but at least we have not run out.

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    Replies
    1. You're quite right, I've just had a peek in my cold frame and both red and green salad bowl lettuces are still coming along nicely :)

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  3. We are in our true July-August weather - close to 100 degrees every day so lettuce is out of the question.
    I'll plant kale and chard next month and buy lettuce at the farmer's market when it returns in the fall.

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    Replies
    1. Molly - welcome! We're in the middle of a heatwave (high 80s F) which is forecast to last for over a week. So lettuce may become out of the question for us too!

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  4. I fell like my arms are dropping off from all the watering we are having to do, even so my little gems, which have been brilliant this year, are just bolting now. I also have a mystery iceberg type lettuce, a type I don't usually grow given to me by a lovely elderly Chinese speaking allotment neighbour which has been brilliant. Goodness knows what sort it is - she doesn't understand a word I say! I wonder whether it is the amount of lettuce I am eating that makes me so sleepy in the afternoon a la Flopsy Bunnies.

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    Replies
    1. Same here Colleen and I have raspberries, spuds and apples which are desperate for more. I spotted an opium lettuce amongst the Plant Heritage varieties on offer at Hampton Court. However, I have too many other varieties on the go, so resisted buying some!

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  5. Our Tom Thumb lettuce finally went to seed, and a lot else has as well. It is the season to be thin on greens in this heat unless one has the proper place to grow them and has timing down to perfection. Now do I recall you grew Dazzle? Has that bolted?

    So we are eating green and purple wave mustards, some lettuce, scarlet kale, Bright Lights chard and bulls blood leaves. Sort of a harder leaf salad..so...good with a Caesar salad dressing or ranch. Shred leaves, remove stems. Add any fresh herbs. Garlic scape pesto perhaps )))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dazzle is just about hanginging in there - it's wanting to bolt, but the leaves are still sweet. I'm hoping that some rapid picking has stayed its execution.

      I've never really got on with chard, but it's such a good leaf to have on standby for all kinds of times when other leaves are in trouble. Perhaps I should sow some for emergencies...

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