Friday, November 09, 2012

On Planting Lettuces / Why Do Lettuces Bolt?

"In March I sowed strips of Cos lettuces together with a packet of mixed lettuces I like to describe as frilly knicker lettuces.  You get the idea.  They really ought to have been planted out a couple of weeks ago, but my obscenely busy schedule made this impossible.  Each morning I'd stare out at the kitchen garden, cup of tea in hand and say to myself "I really must get those lettuces in..."

Matters reached crisis..."

And there I left it, having reached across my desk to answer the phone and then become embroiled in busyness.  And now, some five months on from this draft I'm composing a post about bolting lettuces.  Bolting refers to the sudden onset of your lettuces stretching up from their main stem, as if to catch up with the Borlottis you planted nearby, rather than remaining a nicely bunched, tightly curled head of leaves a few inches from the ground.  Bolting can be triggered by either a few days of cold weather, stress or by changes in the day length as the growing season progresses. 

Lettuces are particularly sensitive to the amount of daylight received, and given the appalling spring, summer and autumn we've had here in sunny Derbyshire, I'm overly delighted to have grown any usable lettuce at all.  There really isn't much you can do, except to pick your leaves as you need them, and enjoy the beauty of your bolting salad greenery.


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