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1,000 Seeds for Summer Salad

That’s a picture of a lunch I had this past week: delicious fresh picked salad with raspberries, sunflower and flax seeds and a bit of raspberry vinaigrette. Due to the cooler, wet weather earlier this spring the lettuce has been beautifully lush and sweet. It’s done so well in fact that I honestly haven’t seen or tasted lettuce like this – well, ever. New lettuce is planted every 3 weeks or so in our Ohio climate (Akron being a half a zone higher than the immediate surrounding area). This allows us to constantly pick more fresh organically grown lettuce throughout the season, even in the hottest months, before it bolts.

Bolting is when too much heat or even age causes lettuce to begin to stretch out, making it look lanky and tall. That’s the beginning of the bolt. Once you see that, it’s a sign that the plant is shifting its energy from creating leaves to building a long stem. That long stem is where the flowers will form, and once they bloom and transform into seeds, it’s the height from the elongated stem that gives lettuce its chance to fly as far as it can in the wind.

The shift in energy also causes a chemical change that gradually begins to form a bitter taste in the leaves. It’s all part of the life cycle of lettuce, but isn’t very tasty when you’re trying to eat it! That’s why we plant so much lettuce, which is over 1,000 seeds so far. It’s our way to stay ahead of the bolt and enjoy delicious crunchy lettuce all summer long.