Saturday, my lettuce looked something like this:
A veritable lettuce jungle, you might say. You'd be right. It was very hot this weekend, and it looks like its going to continue to be hot this week. It went from cool and wet to hot and sunny in the blink of an eye, and you know what that means for cool weather loving things like spinach and lettuce, right? Or maybe you're not a gardener and you don't, so I'll tell you. It means bolting - when the plant sprouts flowers and goes to seed. This also makes the leaved bitter and yucky. Yesterday, my greens seemed to have grown half an inch over night. This morning, the spinach in the lettuce mix shown above had bolted and the spinach in the box right next door (not shown) was looking a little sad.
I had been very precious about harvesting my lettuces. A leaf here and there, but nothing more drastic than a two small bowls of salad. They were just so tiny and lovable, you see, and they were my babies. Well, the threat of bolting without a real chance to enjoy the fruits of my nurturing lit a serious fire, and I pretty much razed the boxes. You can see to the right where I just pulled the bolted spinach out of the mixed box. No need for an icky leaf to make it into my delightful salads this week! I came away with quite the little harvest, and the possibility for regeneration from what's left in the box since I left about an inch of stem and the smaller leaves behind. I'm hoping that it will regrown without bolting and I can have just one more harvest before putting the boxes away until the fall.
We do things very low tech here, Chez Double G. No toaster for me when a broiler works just as well and saves my very limited counter space. "Harvest" consisted of a pair of scissors and a bowl, with me plunked on my butt in front of the boxes. Taking a tip from Grow Great Grub I made a bag for keeping my lettuce out of an old dishtowel and a bit of ribbon lying among the sewing supplies. Just sew a casing for the ribbon and then fold the towel in half and hem it. Keep the towel damp but not wet, and the lettuce will stay fresh in the fridge without wilting or rotting.
I'm also low tech about washing my lettuce, possessing nothing resembling a salad spinner. Just swish the lettuce in cold water and place in the middle of a dry, clean dish towel. Find a place you don't mind getting a little wet (for me this is my balcony), fold up the corners until you're carrying a pouch full of wet lettuce, and swing the thing around like a windmill until the lettuce is reasonably dry. It works, I swear. Plus, you get to feel 5 years old. Bonus!