Saving Lettuce Seeds

I’m so very tired.   The kind of exhausted where all day long the only thing you can think about is going back to bed and when your office is only 6 feet away from your bed it makes getting that particular thought out of your mind quite difficult.

I probably do too much and probably don’t get enough sleep and with two cats sleeping on my head the sleep I do get isn’t what you’d call quality. Unless you judge the quality of your sleep by how many cat farts it’s filled by.  I do not.

But there are just so many things I want to do, try and accomplish on any given day that sleep seems to be unimportant, ya know?  Until I realize I’ve nodded off in the middle of peeing.  Then it seems pretty important indeed.

Saving seeds is one of those extra little things that I like to do on any given day. The great thing about it, is it’s a PERFECT ACTIVITY for anyone who is too busy to not save seeds.

Confused?

Let me explain.

 

How saving lettuce seeds is perfect for anyone too busy to bother with saving seeds.

 

 

In the heat of summer, lettuces and other greens do something called “bolt”.  Once the weather gets too hot the plants recognize that these aren’t optimal conditions for growing, so they panic.

In their panic they realize, “Holy shit.  I need to reproduce before I die!!!”.  It’s similar to a man’s mid-life crises, only instead of heat driving them to it, it’s the loss of hair and the realization they’ll never be an actual super-hero.  The end result of needing to suddenly reproduce is the same.

 

So the lettuce/greens will start to send up a tall stalk which has flowers on it.

 

Mizuna-flowers

 

If you are busy enough, and lazy enough your lettuce will send these flowers up before you can be bothered to pull the bolted lettuce out.  You’re halfway to being lazy enough to saving tons of seeds!  Good job!

 

After the plant flowers, depending on the type of lettuce/green it is, it will start to form seeds. With regular lettuces like romaine lettuce for example, the seeds form right from the flower.  The flowers get puffy and silky exactly like a dandelion and the seeds are in the middle of all that puff.

 

With greens like this red mizuna (mustard greens) the seed pods form all the way down the flower stalk.

 

mizuna-seed-heads

 

 

If you are exactly busy enough you will leave the bolted lettuce/greens in the ground until these pods form.  Then you can either continue to be busy and let them dry right there in the garden or …

You can pull the entire plant up, roots and all and hang it somewhere to dry out. The seeds/seed pods need to dry out on the plant, so you need the whole plant.  You shouldn’t just pull off the individual seed pods.

 

drying-lettuce-seed-heads

 

This is an immature pod from red mizuna.  The pod is green and so are the seeds inside.

 

mizuna-seeds

 

There’s no guess work in figuring out when the seeds are dry enough to harvest so a busy person doesn’t need to waste time thinking about it. Also, a lazy person doesn’t need to worry that their seeds are too dry.  No such thing.

This is working out just perfectly for the busy/lazy lettuce eating people of the world.

The immature pods (not ready for harvesting) are green …

 

 

mizuna-seed-heads

 

… and the mature pods are brown and dried.

 

Saving-Mizuna-seeds1

 

Within a week or two your pulled lettuce plant will look like this.

 

mizuna-seeds-drying

 

The seeds inside will be dark and dried.  Mine are brown with a hint of red  (for red mizuna).

 

mizuna-seeds

See? So as long as you’re busy enough, as long as you’re lazy enough you too can successfully save lettuce seeds.

38 Comments

  1. Karen Williams says:

    I planted red mizuna for the first time this year. A late frost killed it all, but now I see I have one plant coming back and immediately sending up a flower. I shall see what happens.

  2. Barbie says:

    Pretty sure I qualify for this one.

  3. Maxwell says:

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  4. Kristina W. says:

    My husband is our veggie gardener. He simply lets the lettuces self seed (red romaine works well for this). In the spring, he transplants the little plants from the paths or wherever and we have plenty of lettuce. Same with kale. He does save squash seeds and broadbeans.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristina! Yup that would work well and in fact has worked well here. :) But I like to have actual seeds on hand for starting indoors or planting at my community garden. Plus for sharing of course. ~ karen!

  5. theresa says:

    thanks for this post–totally loving fresh lettuce from the garden this summer but was worrying that bolted lettuce was money wasted– not future crops in a convenient package

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