Friday, June 19, 2015

The End of Lettuce - Almost

I admit it.  I planted way too much lettuce.  I always do.  It's just so inexpensive.  And it grows so well! And I always find room.  I plant rows of thinnings along any bare spot.  Along the beans where the old seeds rotted.  Along the west side of the peas.

Don't leave a bare edge, plant some extra lettuce.

They make great ground cover.  They block out weeds.  They work as spatter guards protecting sensitive plants from soil born diseases.   They work as mulch shading the sun and holding moisture into the soil.

Early lettuce purchased from a greenhouse provides meals at first
and then becomes attractive ground cover.

When I thin my lettuce clumps (let's face it, it's nearly impossible to plant just ONE lettuce seed) I pull the targeted plant away from the one I am leaving, then I cut the roots off into the weed pan and keep the leaves (sometimes I get mixed up and cut roots into my salad bowl)

A clump of small plants must be thinned to allow one plant
to continue with proper air circulation and room to grow.

If the thinning comes out with a good portion of roots and dirt, plant it!

 But sometimes when I pull the young plant, so much root system comes with it that it is a perfect transplant candidate.  The more root, and the more dirt in the roots, the more likely the transplant is to thrive immediately.

My bean row failed so I planted lettuce thnnings.
They looked pitiful for a few days, but lettuce is very resilient.

The key to enjoying your lettuce is succession planting.  If you seed into pots, don't transplant them all at once.  Even if you seeded them all at once, if you leave them in the pots, they will sort of hang out, developing roots, but not putting out much foliage.  Save half of your pots for a later planting.  Then, transplant some of your thinnings.  This way you will get at LEAST three plantings extending your season,

But, inevitably, the plants will bolt and get bitter.  This will happen at the point when they are large and beautiful.  It will hurt to pull them.  But you are making room for the next crop.  And even better - if you aren't growing food, you are growing compost!  The first row of store bought transplants spent half it's life mulching the peas.  The main lettuce bed that produced buckets all through June will be pulled to make room for the next crop.  But the thinnings along the bean row will still be immature and producing.  The root of succession is Success.

Tips on Lettuce Harvesting and Storage:
Pick early in the morning when the temperatures are still cool and the leaves are crisp
Pick as cleanly as possible
Rinse leaves only as necessary and remove any damaged or browned areas
Use a salad spinner or or lay out on towels to remove as much water as possible
Place in a ziplok bag one gallon or two gallon size.
I include at least one paper towel in the bottom to collect moisture
Close the bag 90% of the way, place under a cutting board and press gently to remove air, and close.
Lettuce is best eaten the same day it is harvested but will keep in the refrigerator at least two weeks if properly handled.

No comments:

Post a Comment