Harvesting Lettuce Seed

The summer heat is on.  The tomatoes and peppers couldn’t be happier, but the lettuce has bolted and the spinach has been gone for a month.  But although I’ll miss my fresh salad greens from the garden until fall, I’ve been gifted with plenty of seed for the next crop…. and some to share.

Lettuce-and-the-garden

When the yellow flower heads turn brown and fuzzy, then the seeds are ready to be harvested.

I don’t mind the lettuce bolting like a weed in my garden as soon as the summer heat turns up. And the little yellow flowers that come before the seed have their own unique beauty. Besides why not enjoy the reward of collecting seeds and save yourself a dollar or two…. certainly no more than two. Yes, seeds can be very inexpensive to purchase, but there is something that makes you feel connected with the earth when you can grow something full circle. I think that’s pretty cool.
Lettuce-seeds-in-the-greenhouse
Above, I’ve cut the seed heads off and have taken them into the greenhouse.  (It’s slightly cooler under the fan… and with the swamp cooler working hard against the early august blaze.)  This is not a complicated process.  One generic envelope, a marker and a little plucking and you have plenty of seeds for the next crop and your friends.

lettuce-envelope

This Lettuce is ‘Little Gem’ (Lechuga). It takes about 45 days to mature from seed. It’s a space saving Romaine.

Lettuce, as well as spinach seeds are so easy to collect and there is absolutely no complicated process to the successful collection unlike some fruits and veggies, such as tomatoes and squash,etc. These seeds also don’t need stratification (stored cold for a period of time, basically simulating winter) or scarification (sandpapered or scrapped, again simulating nature.) Just store the seeds in a cool, dry place for next seasons use.  

It won’t be long before I collect basil and dill seed…. another very simple collection process. I’ve pinched the flower heads off for a bit, but it’s time to let the more mature plants flower and then go to seed. I’ve planted a few more basil seedlings to help keep me with fresh basil until fall’s first frost.

ready-for-fall

 

And speaking of fall, with the lettuce ready to be completely removed, it’s time to start planning my fall greens.  I’m thinking kale and chard.  I’ll plant those seeds next month.  Until next time, happy harvesting!

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3 Replies to "Harvesting Lettuce Seed"

  • comment-avatar
    Regina August 22, 2016 (1:40 pm)

    Very very cool. Will the lettuce last through the winter?

    • comment-avatar
      Amber August 22, 2016 (1:54 pm)

      Hi Regina, Thanks for checking out the post! Unfortunately, lettuce can’t survive a freeze, but a frost blanket can extend it’s season on those really cold, late-October-nights and on into November here in zone 7. Next month, I’ll plant kale and chard for fall. The lettuce seeds will be perfect for planting next spring. I usually plant the seeds about four weeks before the last frost.

      • comment-avatar
        admin August 22, 2016 (9:04 pm)

        Very fascinating to hear about the different vegetables and their seasons. All of my father’s gardening is becoming clearer to me know. There was a method to his madness. 🙂

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