Before the final spring frost, you hurriedly planted your lettuce seedlings in the ground. Thinned head lettuce and loose-leaf lettuce cultivars were available for harvesting in a few weeks. The best lettuce comes from a garden, and nothing beats the flavor of freshly harvested greens.
Summer heat soon came, and gardening websites like this one were overwhelmed with questions: What’s wrong with my lettuce? What causes lettuce to become bitter in the first place? What causes the bitterness in lettuce? Does anybody know how to deal with the bitterness of lettuce? What are the causes of bitter lettuce?
Common reasons for bitter lettuce
Bitter lettuce, according to most gardeners, is a byproduct of the summer heat; lettuce is a cold season crop. A stem and blossoms spring out from the plant when the temperature rises over a certain threshold. This is where the bitter lettuce comes from. Although this is the sole explanation for the bitter taste of lettuce, it is not the only one.
Bitter lettuce may also be caused by a lack of water. To stay plump and flavorful, those broad, flat leaves need a lot of water. If the margins of your lettuce leaves are becoming brown, it’s because your lettuce is dehydrated or the roots have been damaged by overcrowding. Provide plenty of water on a regular basis. Don’t allow the mattress to dry out completely.
Nutrition may also be a factor in lettuce’s bitter taste. Lettuce must grow quickly. Growth is inhibited and bitter lettuce is the consequence of a lack of nutrients. Ensure that you fertilize on a regular basis, but don’t overdo it. Too much nitrogen, according to some research, may also be the cause of bitter lettuce.
Finally, the yellows of aster bitter lettuce is caused by a phytoplasma, a disease known as aster yellows, which is a fungus. As a result of this illness, both the inside and the exterior leaves of the plant become yellow. Deformities might affect the whole plant.
What’s Wrong with My Lettuce and How Do I Fix It?
The maturing process is most likely to blame for your lettuce’s bitterness. You can’t stop Mother Nature, but you can put off the inevitable outcome.
Put some mulch on top of your lettuce roots to help keep them cold and make the plant believe it’s still spring. Keep your lettuce in the shadow by planting it next to taller crops. The season may be extended even more by succession planting.
Add a tiny quantity of wood ash to your soil if you suspect that nitrogen is causing your lettuce to taste bitter.
Some individuals like to soak their bitter lettuce before eating it. A tiny quantity of baking soda may be added to the cold water in which the lettuce leaves are placed if you’d like to give this method a go. A few minutes of soaking and rinsing are all that is necessary to remove the leaves from the water. Drain the water and put it to good use.
You may also store the bitter lettuce in the refrigerator for up to two weeks before using it.
Even though the temperature is the most common cause of bitter lettuce, there is a slew of other variables that might contribute to its bitterness, including one’s locale, present growth circumstances, and even the type.
Count the days till maturity and determine whether you have enough time to harvest your seeds or transplants before the time of year when the heat generally reaches your location.
To cultivate any sort of lettuce, including butterhead, romaine and crisphead, you need to follow these tips.
A cultivar that is especially resistant to bolting may also be worth considering if you live in an area with long, hot summers. These are my top three picks:
The thin, pointed leaves of this heat-resistant Amish heritage grow from a compact base that reaches a height of approximately six inches when fully grown.
Crispy ribs and a mild taste make the leaves a pleasant addition to any meal. It takes ‘Deer Tongue’ 30 days to develop its first baby leaves, and another 46 days to achieve full maturity.
For pots and edible landscapes, ‘Ruby’ has deep-red coloured leaves on plants that reach seven or eight inches in height when mature.
You may expect it to be ready to harvest in 30 to 60 days.
New Red Fire
It takes ‘New Red Fire,’ an open-pollinated red leaf cultivar with high heat tolerance, 55 days to attain maturity and 10 inches tall.
For huge salads, the leaves provide a sweet, crunchy foundation, and they’re just the ideal size and texture for sandwiches and burgers.
Salads made with these leaves won’t have a bitter aftertaste when allowed to mature to their full size.
Planting in part shade, getting a head start on the season by purchasing transplants or starting seeds indoors, mulching after the seedlings are a few inches tall, and growing this crop in containers you can move indoors if an early heatwave hits are all ways to prevent the bitter taste that occurs in lettuce exposed to too much hot weather.
Readjusting your expectations is another technique to deal with the current reality. Rather than harvesting a single crop of lettuce each season, you may easily seed and collect two or more sets of young leaves before the weather warms up and ruins the harvest.
Use a full fertilizer, such as one with an NPK ratio of 13-13-13, or lots of composted manure or other organic matter before you seed or transplant. Make careful to perform this prior to sowing so that the seedlings don’t get burned.
Side-dress the young plants with a high-nitrogen fertilizer every three weeks throughout the season, unless you just want to harvest baby leaves or microgreens.
As a companion plant, try growing legumes that fix nitrogen in the soil such as beans or rotate crops such that your L. Sativa cultivars follow legumes in subsequent years.
Not Bitter Is a Better Choice
I really hope you can avoid growing bitter lettuce after reading this, so you may enjoy this delightful harvest from the soft baby leaves to the full-sized, crispy heads.