Collecting Seed (Lettuce)

Funny how things tend to sneak right up on you in regards to garden work. All of a sudden it is time to harvest seed and to get a short season planting in for the fall.

This is the first year that I have attempted to save lettuce seed. It is actually quit easy. Lettuce will bolt once the weather hits 85 degrees or so on a regular basis. Simply choose a few heads that you are going to allow to become seed stock and let them go to flower. Eventually the heads will look like tiny dandelion flowers with the white plume attached to the seed waiting for the wind to carry them away. Pick the seed pouch from the plant and crack it open, inside you will find an abundance of lettuce seed. Set them in a dry spot with some mild air circulation to dry and you will be set for the coming year, or better yet use them for a fall planting of your own!

Recently I had a friend make a comment while I was harvesting pea seeds that it takes a true Buddha to do such patient and diligent work,(*authors note I am a long way from such enlightenment*). I think that harvesting lettuce may even be a bit more trying. I personally enjoy it but I can see where it would drive someone crazy. It is delicate slow work and it is kind of difficult to get all the excess plant matter out of the harvested seed. I have read that using a screen can help out with this problem and I may eventually go that route myself.But with that said with the popularity of gourmet salads now days why not get your own seed bank going and set some friends up with a delicious green, or better yet grow enough to sell a little to cover some cost?

Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. Click on the Mother Earth News logo at the bottom of the page for all of his post. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog, A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad found here


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