I wasn't planning on harvesting my lettuce but how do I know when it will bolt? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 07-01-2011, 08:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It's suddenly gotten very hot here and my lettuce is still rather small.  Last year I accidentally let it bolt and had to toss a bunch because it was too bitter for us to eat.  I want to leave it in the ground as long as possible but I'm afraid it might bolt any minute!  Any thoughts?

 

Also, what would you plant in its place - any ideas?

 

Thank you very much!

 

-Dancy - I'm in Minnesota

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#2 of 7 Old 07-01-2011, 06:24 PM
 
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The center will start bulging upward.  The question is, does it turn bitter first?  I might harvest early. In my garden, I have found that Romaine types seem pretty heat tolerant.  We don't eat a lot of lettuce, so that was a blessing when the hot weather arrived.

 

This time of year here we can still plant some kale and broccoli for the fall, perhaps more lettuce and cilantro (at least this year with such a long spring), but I know nothing about gardening in Minnesota.  I'm in the Pacific NW.


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#3 of 7 Old 07-02-2011, 09:14 AM
 
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I keep eating at least one piece of it daily to "feel it out."  If I start to notice a tiny taste difference, I yank it out and eat it all as fast as possible.  I've never been successful enough with romaine to end up with big pieces like at the grocery store.  I usually clip it small and call it "baby romaine."  lol.  FWIW, my spinach has already bolted so I know my lettuce will be going REALLY soon.


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#4 of 7 Old 07-03-2011, 06:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

The center will start bulging upward.  The question is, does it turn bitter first?  I might harvest early. In my garden, I have found that Romaine types seem pretty heat tolerant.  We don't eat a lot of lettuce, so that was a blessing when the hot weather arrived.

 

This time of year here we can still plant some kale and broccoli for the fall, perhaps more lettuce and cilantro (at least this year with such a long spring), but I know nothing about gardening in Minnesota.  I'm in the Pacific NW.



Thank you so much for this reply - I also noticed it start to elongate - sometimes just asking the question helps me look a little deeper.

I'm excited to plant some more seeds, and I do love kale and chard, so I'm going to look into that.

 

thanks again!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SuburbanHippie View Post

I keep eating at least one piece of it daily to "feel it out."  If I start to notice a tiny taste difference, I yank it out and eat it all as fast as possible.  I've never been successful enough with romaine to end up with big pieces like at the grocery store.  I usually clip it small and call it "baby romaine."  lol.  FWIW, my spinach has already bolted so I know my lettuce will be going REALLY soon.


I didn't even think of just tasting it - what a good idea!  My garden has had such a slow start that it's a little disheartening to think of tearing out my whole (little) lettuce bed, but that may be what I have to do.  I've had trouble with bunnies, but strangely! they don't bother the lettuce! - they've gotten the peas, the pansies, the chard...

Thank you so much for this reply.  I too have never grown real big leaves on the lettuce, although chard and kale have gotten big for me.

 

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#5 of 7 Old 07-28-2011, 11:24 PM
 
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lettuce WILL bolt in hot weather. plan for it by planting in succession. lettuce can be started in early spring, and you can have a late cropping in the middle fall (up to about Halloween or later). 

 

if you think it's bolting (or preparing to), you are probably right.

 

crack it off and look at the broken stem. if it's brimming with a white sticky substance (which if you lick it, tastes bitter), your lettuce will be bitter too.

 

when this happens, cut your losses and rip it all out. rake the remaining soil and reseed with more lettuce (or another crop).


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#6 of 7 Old 07-29-2011, 07:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I did not know that about the stem - thank you for posting!

I have recently planted zucchini and chard, in hopes that they will have enough growing season to give some food before the first frost, but I don't know.  My chard from earlier is doing poorly.  In past years, I planted chard in early summer and harvested from the same plants from mid-summer through fall.  This year, they are just a few leaves, not thick growth like last year.  I have some shade on my vegetable garden, so I think that may be most of the problem for the chard - much more shade this year due to my neighbor's lilac bushes growing so tall just south of my garden.  However the zucchini get more sun.  I am hopeful that they get the "50 days" they need before frost, but I'm not counting on it.

 

-Dancy

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#7 of 7 Old 07-29-2011, 08:43 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElliesMomma View Post

crack it off and look at the broken stem. if it's brimming with a white sticky substance (which if you lick it, tastes bitter), your lettuce will be bitter too.

 

Don't all lettuces and chicories and wild lettuce weeds, dandelions, etc. produce this all the time?  Is is more profuse at bloom time?  I know the composite weeds pretty much bloom right away.  We don't eat much lettuce and haven't grown any this year ((!!!!)) so I can't just go out and check myself.
 

 


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