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QUESTION: Bitter lettuce

comments (7) July 15th, 2011

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sfrac sfrac, member
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Click To Enlarge Photo: Ruth Dobsevage

My spring mix salad greens have been bitter from the first picking in early spring.  Is there an amendment I can add to my soil to "sweeten " the lettuce?..  Last year tomatoes were planted in this plot.  Does that make a difference?



posted in: Lettuce

Comments (7)

OrlandoWilliam writes: Useful Information
Posted: 12:35 am on February 13th
S2006 writes: I'd like to offer two suggestions.

First: don't plant mixed seeds because the more "field green" types tend to outgrow the more sweet and mild types of lettuce.

Second: based on my experience (so watch out), harvest early in the morning and put the leaves directly into a bucket of cool water. Wash them and leave them soaking in the last batch of rinse water until late afternoon. I theorize that the water is taking some of the alkaloids out while plumping them up - both things causing the impression of sweetness.

Oh, and thirdly: learn to enjoy the the tartness. People pay extra for it at fine dining establishments. Find some dressings that work well it and don't forget the olive oil: Many of the vitamins/minerals are fat soluble only and need a carrier. S.
Posted: 12:59 pm on July 11th
czyha writes: I read recently that lettuce likes to be well watered and that will keep it from going bitter. So far that seems to be working for me.
Posted: 11:53 am on July 4th
sanni2701 writes: stupid me , wasn't watching the pic: in case you're using oak or walnut leaves or rind for mulching (or anything with naturally bitter tannins) they can spoil your crop, try another mulching material............
Posted: 8:37 pm on August 23rd
sanni2701 writes: I don't know about the weather in your area but maybe the salad got stressed. In Germany we had high heat in early summer then 4 weeks rain and rather cold temps and now it's hot and wet. many plants got stressed and salad doesn't like high temps. it will go mature early and hence turn bitter. Especially a spring mix will do. Or maybe the soil was exeptionally dry? I have a row of iceberg where in the middle - a sandy spot - the plant didn't form heads but looks like shoe soles and is so tough you can use it as shoe soles...
maybe you can start your salad earlier next year - and remember that salad wants to fly --> don't plant to deep. hth, sanni
Posted: 8:35 pm on August 23rd
EssieB writes: Hi Again Sandy,
I was just reading in Dick Raymond's wonderful book, The Joy of Gardening that you can plant lettuce seeds in the garden all season long. I wish i had planted mine in succession instead of all at once, then we would have been able to eat it when it was ready to harveset. i have a lot of lettuce that is going i will plant more asap instead of waiting until the Fall...Anyway, Dick writes that Black Seeded Simpson is a good lettuce to plant and Oak Leaf too b/c it doesn' get bitter as quickly in warm weather. Happy Gardening!


Posted: 11:53 am on July 24th
EssieB writes: Hi Sandy,
I can relate b/c some of my lettuce is bitter also, esp the Mesclun..i noticed early on when the lettuce leaves were smaller, it was sweeter. But i really haven't found out yet why the lettuce is now bitter...but guessing, it could be that the soil needed more lime...or the hot summer temps could be causing it. Going to replant lettuce in the Fall when it's cooler. Wish you the best with your garden!

Posted: 11:44 am on July 24th
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