The growth curve of our lettuces has not followed the standard trajectory, at least not as I understand it.  We sowed the lettuce seeds at the beginning of May and expected seedlings in two weeks.  Instead, they sprouted after four days.  Based on information on the seed packet, the seedlings should have reached harvestable size by the end of May.  But after a speedy start, our lettuces decided to take things a bit slower.

In fact, the lettuces must have liked being less than an inch tall because that is how they remained for two months.  If we cooked in a cheffy style, this would have been fine:  more micro-greens than we could shake a stick (or pair of garden snippers) at.  We like our lettuces young but we also like them big enough to sink our teeth into.

We were ready to give up on the mesclun and planted over half of it (see June 24, 2012).  It was not until early in July that the remaining half experienced a growth spurt and increased to a height of three to four inches.  It was as if they had been in suspended animation and then been thawed.  In mid-July, we started harvesting, first by thinning out the closely-spaced plants and then by cutting off the outer leaves of the larger heads.

The growth rate has remained slow and the heads of lettuce eventually filled out somewhat (clumps of lettuce might better capture their appearance) but they haven’t really gotten much bigger.  They’re about half the size of what we see at the farmers’ market and much smaller than those at the grocery store.

Not that size matters.  The flavor of the lettuces is exceptional and we treasure every leaf.  We have had a steady (if small) supply to add to salads most nights.  It’s just that I expected them to grow bigger.  And I expected them to have done so and been finished at least a month ago.  Even with daily watering, how have they survived the hot, hot weather?  We will have to plant mesclun again next year to see what, if anything, changes.

Now the lettuces have been in the ground for almost four months.  They’re not looking as pristine as they once did—they look a bit leathery, in fact—and it is time to finish them off.  We used the clippers to cut off each of the remaining bunches at ground level.  Luckily, our decision to clear-cut coincided with a large crop of cherry tomatoes so tonight’s salad is in the bag (well, in a bowl).

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