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Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

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Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

Post  Zephyros on 1/4/2011, 10:20 am

First to say: happy new year everyone.

Second thing is: Growing season starts very soon (at least, here it does), and I was thinking on how to plant the seeds in my SFG. I am going to grow lettuce and spinach, and I have read that you can cut the outer leaves from spinach and lettuce to have a bigger harvest over time (and of course this way you save space in the fridge, meaning that you are really good for the environment too). what I was wondering is: how long can you harvest from one spinach/ lettuce plant, when you start taking some leaves from the plant and leave the rest to grow further.

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Re: Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

Post  Blackrose on 1/4/2011, 10:36 am

I only have one season under my belt, but I found that I could harvest my lettuce and spinach up until it started to bolt (go to seed). Once it starts to bolt the flavour turns bitter. I hope this helps! Smile

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Re: Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

Post  WardinWake on 1/4/2011, 10:52 am

@Blackrose wrote:I only have one season under my belt, but I found that I could harvest my lettuce and spinach up until it started to bolt (go to seed). Once it starts to bolt the flavor turns bitter. I hope this helps! Smile

Howdy: Blackrose is right on with my experience. We harvest spinach and lettuce until bolt and after as well (even if it is a bit bitter). We found that if we grew lettuce under a large shade tree we got a longer harvest as the shade slowed bolting. One of our TT's is solely for lettuce and is mounted on wheels so we can move it around as needed.

God Bless, Ward and Mary.

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Re: Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 1/4/2011, 11:15 am

I assume in The Netherlands, you have relatively cool summers compared to me in the Midwest US here....meaning you don't hit mid 80's or 90 (30C+) too often?

Simpson's Elite, if you can find it, has been our best summer lettuce. Anything, apparently, will grow in the cooler seasons, but we have had tremendous luck with the Simpson Elite variety. We will not even trim just the outer leaves. We plant many plants and take a couple of whole plants at a time with staggered plantings. They come back just fine and don't bolt until we ignore them for awhile. If we keep trimming, they seem to keep growing. This is over two growing seasons, and both seasons went the exact same.

Another thing I would suggest, as another viewpoint, since you mentioned "good for the environment," take as much as you need at one time to keep the refridgerator full. A full refridgerator is well documented to use less energy because once cool, the other foods combine to keep the overall temperature inside the refridgerator down. The more mass you have in there, the harder it is to affect the temperature. Lettuce keeps for quite awhile, too. We have had ziploc baggies full of lettuce for over two weeks and it's still as fresh as when we put it in to our taste buds.

If you stagger your plantings and take the whole plant, or grow fewer plants and harvest a few leaves at a time, I don't think it matters to the environment outside your house. However, you get that salad bowl filled, it requires the same amount of leaves.

Just food for thought. If I misunderstood that portion of your post, feel free to correct me.

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Re: Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

Post  Zephyros on 1/4/2011, 1:04 pm

In my opinion, even though a refridgerator is a good invention, it think that nature is made in such a way that they can keep my veggies better than the refridgerator does. Because when the vegtable is in the ground, it is still able to take up nutrients, keeping it healty, which is not possible in the refridgerator. Another thing is, that the refridgerator has a limited amount of space, and mine is not so big. I know that my garden also has a limited amount of space, but one has to choose what to put where. And I find it a bit difficult to put the milk in the garden and the lettuce in the fridge lol!

About the summers here, it has been over 30 degrees this year (I think. It definitly felt very hot). Although according to the meteorology it wasn't a heat wave (5 days with maximum 25 degrees whereof at least 3 days above 30 degrees), we had quit a lot of days with a temperature above 25 degrees. So, although we haven't temperatures above 30 degrees very often, might they not bolt also when we have a lot of days with temperatures above 25 after oneanother? But I must admid, last summer was a rare occasion, but no one knows what next summer brings.

The next question is, how long does it take before lettuce and spinach bolt? Or does it only depend on the temperature? And do I understand it right that when you keep taking leaves from them, it prevents bolting?

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Re: Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

Post  LaFee on 1/4/2011, 2:58 pm

Zephyros, it's mostly the temperatures. Another poster called Mirjam is in Holland as well, and she and I both had good lettuce until it got so hot in July...then it went to seed almost overnight, and we had trouble growing lettuce the rest of the summer.

Eventually it does just get old and goes to seed, but I'd been trimming lettuce for about 6 weeks before it got too warm.

(I'm in the Paris region, so a little warmer, but not by much!)

I'm so tired of the snow this year, and I can't wait to open my little greenhouse and grow something!

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Re: Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

Post  Zephyros on 1/5/2011, 3:01 am

The snow dissapeared here on New Years day, but now it looks a bit sad outside

Thanks for sharing that you can haverst approximatly six weeks from the lettuce. Then I know how long the space will be taken. Maybe I will sow a little bit less otherwise I will be eating lettuce untill I see green. And since I am only starting a SFG for the first time, I don't want to have too much the first time. I want to get an idea how much I extually eat, and how all these plants really grow. I mean, you can read it in the tekstbooks, but you probably know that it is never gonna be the way as they describe it.

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Re: Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

Post  ribsyhuggins on 1/13/2011, 12:15 am

there is secret to get lettuce(when mean lettuce I mean none heading varieties) even in hot weather but you need to be willing to follow several important steps some are easy others are hard.
step 1 important step are watering at least 2 twice day.
step 2 total plant time from seed to bolt 6 weeks
step 3 you need to use more heat tolerant varieties
step 4 you need to restrict the plant to less then 8 hours of light per day.
the reason for step 4 is that over 70f and day lengths over 8 trigger
bolting. Other wise you need to replant and deal with a limited 6 weeks per plant.


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Re: Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

Post  Furbalsmom on 1/13/2011, 3:44 am

Ribsy, you are right, those are all important things to consider, but you make it sound so hard. It's not hard.

Water when they need it.
By harvesting the outer leaves, I've been able to harvest single plants for six to 8 weeks or even longer, just harvest until the plant bolts or goes to seed, and sometimes you can still harvest a bit longer, depends on the flavor of the lettuce. For a longer harvest, plant a few more seeds a couple of weeks later.
More heat tolerant varieties will typically last a little longer in the garden
If it is too hot outside, give the lettuce a little shade. You can shade them by planting under taller plants, or even set up some shade cloth to help keep it cooler. Again, lots of water.

Zephyros, try several varieties. It makes your salad so much more fun if the leaf shapes and colors are different.
You might even consider a prepackaged blend that already has several varieties. Just one or two squares to start, then add another square later. It won't be too much and you will not turn green. A salad every other night or even every night is great especially during the spring and early summer. Harvesting from one or two squares at a time won't be too much lettuce for you.

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Re: Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

Post  elliephant on 1/13/2011, 1:19 pm

@ribsyhuggins wrote:there is secret to get lettuce(when mean lettuce I mean none heading varieties) even in hot weather but you need to be willing to follow several important steps some are easy others are hard.
step 1 important step are watering at least 2 twice day.
step 2 total plant time from seed to bolt 6 weeks
step 3 you need to use more heat tolerant varieties
step 4 you need to restrict the plant to less then 8 hours of light per day.
the reason for step 4 is that over 70f and day lengths over 8 trigger
bolting. Other wise you need to replant and deal with a limited 6 weeks per plant.


Well, I water my lettuce only every other day right now.
It's been going for a lot longer than 6 weeks (some of it since October).
We've been up to 90 F on occasion and regularly in the 80s. This week we're in the 40s-50s and it's shocking after being in the 80s all winter Smile
I don't restrict sunlight in any way and our day length isn't as short as most of the US during the winter because we're so far south (southernmost tip of Texas)

No bolting. So, YMMV, but lettuce isn't THAT picky. I started out harvesting outer leaves, but soon switch to just taking a pair of scissors and cutting off the whole plant, leaving about an inch above ground. It seems very happy to just come right back!

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Re: Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

Post  Zephyros on 1/15/2011, 1:39 pm

I don't know if my lettuce is heat tollerant. It is not stated on the package. I selected them because they don't take a lot of space. I have 2 types of curled lettuce. One with yellow leaves and one with red on the border of the leaves (I thought it would be nice to have two different colours). I have also Eruca sativa (I wasn't sure what the proper english word was, but when I use this name, I know for sure we are talking about the same plant) and Spinach. I was specially interested how long you can pluck from them because I thought I was overestimating what I need. And I was, so I am glad I could reduce the amount because than I can use that space for something else (my carrots).

Today I was talking to a friend of mine. She had grown Eruca sativa before. She told me that it grows like weed. And it also keeps growing when you cut it of, so I can reduce this amount too. I should also take into account, that if I don't want to grow it anymore, I should dig it out completely, because it will keep returning otherwise.

I am not to worried about to much spinach. Because that is a vegtable that can easily be stored in the freezer and than I can eat some when the season is over.

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Re: Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

Post  miinva on 1/15/2011, 3:04 pm

We call Eruca sativa arugula Smile

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Re: Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

Post  Chopper on 1/15/2011, 7:51 pm

Thank you for posting this thread! It reminded me that I had lettuce in the garden that was due. Made a nice salad with lettuce, spinach, celery, peas and broccoli. It was fun just picking for one serving.

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Re: Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

Post  quiltbea on 1/15/2011, 8:51 pm

I start my looseleaf lettuce at different dates to prolong the harvest. I cut mine as its needed by outside leaves sometimes and other times I cut off the whole plant about an inch from the ground if I'm having company to feed. It will regrow if it isn't too hot.
I also cover my lettuce with cheesecloth clipped to bent wire hangars to protect them from too much sun when the weather gets hots. It extends the harvest and slows the advance of bolting.


Last edited by quiltbea on 1/15/2011, 8:56 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)

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Re: Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

Post  Zephyros on 1/16/2011, 3:08 am

That looks really nice. That is an advantage of using a sqf: it makes it very easy to protect your vegtables.

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Re: Harvesting Lettuce and Spinach

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