- cayjohan Jun 10, 2009 05:20 AM
Too impatient to wait for the seeds to grow, I did buy one "cheater" pot of ready-to-go mixed lettuces and herbs. I have fearlessly Cut. Now I'm wondering about the Come-Again portion of our program.
I cut the lettuces down to about two inches as instructed. Now: do I fertilize to get another decent crop? Just wait it out? Do the herbs in mixed pots like this compete too much with the lettuces for another flush of leaves? My lettuce gardening past involved many rows of lettuces with no need for the cut-and-come-again method, so I'm in the dark.
The other pots of lettuce I've sown are not quite ready to use, so I'm reduced to staring at the mixed pot hoping stern looks will do the trick! Anything additional I should be doing?
I cannot speak specifically to your Cut-and-Come-Again Lettuces purchase because I don't know this product. I can tell you that for many years, I harvested young lettuces when the leaves were just 2-4 inches long. Any of the so-called "soft" (i.e. leaf) lettuces were candidates for our nightly salad. I NEVER waited until they were fully grown to harvest the whole head.
By pinching a couple of leaves from each plant, I filled a salad bowl weeks before the whole head was ready. I think, but cannot prove, that this practice prolonged our harvest.
The only time lettuces were harvested by the head was when I sent my cousin out to the garden to pick lettuce. I was not specific enough with instructions and she returned with four heads pulled from the ground. Yoicks!
We have two pots with lots of romaine plants (grown from seed). I cut each every or every-other day; but just a few leaves from each as Sherri notes. They are still doing well. Sometimes there is only enough to augment to the CSA lettuce; but there have been several times I've gotten enough for two side salads. I'm wondering if you might have been a little too fearless?
I agree with the above gardeners. when I harvest lettuce (except head lettuce) I take it a leaf or 2 at a time, until they are ready to bolt in the summer heat, then I remove the whole head. .
I have not ever heard of cutting them all the way off. I will be interested to hear about it though, it sounds like a neat idea.
Let's be clear. First, I/we don't know what you have. The type of lettuce could be important, Still, I don't know of lettuce where you cut off the top half and it goes nuts! I've never heard of "come again lettuce". Sounds perverted.
I think what others are referring to is a program of picking the outer leaves and letting the head develop from within. If you do this carefully you will have lettuce for a long time, till it bolts and goes to seed, in warmer weather.
Okay - here's some info on the cut-and-come-again method: http://www.veggiegardeningtips.com/cu... and it pretty much echoes my info from the nursery. The greens in question are Black Seeded Simpson and Red Sails and arugula, interplanted with chives, and two parsleys. (The herbs are definitely not a problem!)
I'm think I may give the thing a little boost of nitrogen, since they're all leaves anyway, and see what happens. I really want this to work, as thinning seedlings is not high on my list of preferred activities! Too, we eat a ton of greens, so the prospect of simply rotating pots between cut-and-waiting for another flush, and an active pot is more appealing than harvesting a few leaves at a time. Experiment time!
I've done this in the past with leaf lettuces, mesclun mix, chard and spinach. I cut them back to about 2-3 inches, not the whole planting but a third to a half at a time. This left me with a part of the greens bed coming on while another part was ready to pick. I didn't fertilize but i did make sure to supply plenty of water. If you're growing in pots you may need a light fertilizer. Last year though it seemed that it was making the greens bitter after awhile. This year I'm picking off the larger outer leaves of the plants leaving the small inner growing crowns to produce more leaves. Takes a little longer to harvest but seems to be working well. I'm currently picking from a 6' x 1' bed of mixed leaf lettuce and spinach, while waiting for the other 2' x 1' bed of butterhead to mature. I'm getting enough to supply 5 people with a good sized daily side salad.
I too plant my mesclun mix seeds very close together. I do "thin" when plants are about 4 inches, i.e. rummage through and pull out "some". This is not a careful process. When plants are that young, I just wash the whole plant, roots and all, and eat the whole thing. A suggestion: You may want to plant some Swiss Chard (pretty Bright Lights mix or just plain) because with that, you can easily cut the large leaves around the edges while easily leaving the center intact.