Quick… Lettuce Escape!


Luttuce EscapeMy initial reaction when I first heard of a lettuce bolting was… “Where to?” I suppose I had visions of all my lettuces scuttling out of my garden in the dead of night in a valiant attempt to avoid the dreaded salad bowl. That all now seems like a long time ago and, in my defence, I was a little… ahem… “green” when it came to growing my own veggies.

These days of course, I know that “bolting” simply means “going to seed” and, thanks to a shiny new database of gardening terms lodged in my already overstuffed memory banks, I am able to hold my own in most casual gardening conversations. I still have those strange visions though 😉

So, what exactly happens to your lettuces if it does start getting a little too hot under the collar for them? Well, they escape to that great salad bowl in the sky of course and in the process they produce a whole bunch of seed, a lot less edible leaves (which are also rather bitter in taste), they turn various shades of brown and then simply give up the ghost. Just like our “Lollo Rossa” red lettuce is busy doing…

Red Lettuce Bolting
Of course, if you also happen to leave a head of lettuce or two in the ground for too long, again like we did, it might just turn a sickly grey colour on the outside and into a putrid mush on the inside instead. Liquid lettuce… ugh, not a nice concept.

Mush Lettuce
On the other hand, one of them might also decide that it has not yet lived life to it’s fullest and, just before being relegated to the compost heap, surprise you with a brand new lease on life. Like this little survivor did…

Great Lakes Survivor
Lesson learned: Plant your lettuces in the coolest spot in your garden (especially if you’re trying to grow them during a hot spring/summer season), make sure that they are watered regularly, use a decent mulch, harvest the leaves often and don’t leave a head of lettuce in the ground for too long. The young’uns taste better anyway.

As usual, we would love to hear of your experiences and any suggestions you may have for growing lettuce so please leave us a comment below or drop us an email.

Happy gardening

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7 Comments on “Quick… Lettuce Escape!”

  1. Yaaseen Isaacs says:

    awesome site. i like the humar lol. thanks for all the advice, im a new tothe whole home vegetable gardening thing but me and my folks r having alot of fun

    • Mark says:

      Thanks Yaaseen. Glad you guys are having fun, it is awesome to see new people discovering the wonders of growing their own veggies at home. The enthusiasm is contagious, keep growing, keep learning, keep having fun!

  2. Marianne says:

    Hi Mark, sincerely hope we can keep this site going, am new here, but have been growing my own veggies since a small child. Very enthusiastic about growing your own and always advocating, “start the size of a door” or “grow in a tub”

    Look forward to more interesting posts.


  3. JULIE says:

    Hi Mark, do you have any advise on how to get your lettuce to make a head, mine are all leafy with no heads? Thanks for a graet site.

    • Mark says:

      Julie, it depends on what variety you are growing. Most of the lettuce varieties that we grow and sell for example, are leaf lettuces. I personally prefer growing the ‘leaf’ lettuce varieties (or, as we call them, “cut-and-come-again”) as you can keep harvesting leaves from the same plants throughout the season. If your variety is in fact a ‘head’ type of lettuce, and it is not forming a head before bolting (going to seed), then it is highly probable that the growing conditions are not ideal (too hot, too dry, too cold, not enough light etc).

  4. Trish says:

    This is fantastic!! I’m trying to harvest seeds from all of my veggies this year to replant next year and I had one stalk of purple lettuce (sorry for the layman’s term) that had flowered. I just harvested all the seeds from it! It’s my zombie plan 😉

    • Marianne says:

      The most economical way to do it for sure, Trish. I wonder is this site stil active, have not heard from Mark in a long time *sniff*

      I really enjoy growing my own but this winter with it being so mild a lot went to seed too quickly. If you cut them off but leave the bulb itself might just come again. I do the same with my basil, I have a whole tub now full of new shiny seedlings.

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