As we probably already know, bolting occurs when the seeds begin to grow flowers in order to produce seeds. As soon as this happens, the harvesting of seeds is delayed as it takes several weeks for seeds to be readily mature for harvesting.
Depending on your location, lettuce seeds can be harvested in late summer or early fall.
Lettuce seeds can be found inside the flower heads. You know it is time for harvest when the flowers begin to fade and even turn brown or yellow.
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GROWING THE LETTUCE FOR SEEDS ONLY
Growing the lettuce for the purpose of growing seeds alone may be a bit different from learning how to harvest lettuce seeds from plants.
Generally, lettuce leaves are harvested before the plant begins to bolt because the bolting allows the plant to turn bitter.
However, in order to collect seeds, you need to let the plants grow and produce flowers.
Your lettuce needs its leaves so that it has the energy to flower and produce seeds. This is especially true if you save seeds from lettuce grown in the fall.
If flowering is delayed, the lettuce may wither and die before the seeds mature.
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Knowing when to harvest the bolted lettuce seeds
The lettuce leaves become lanky when it begins to bolt. This makes it lose its attractiveness. The bolting of lettuce seeds is important for it to produce seeds. The lettuce in the farmer is soft to touch, tender, and has an attractive look. You know it is time to harvest the seeds when the plant has bolted.
Harvesting Bolted Lettuce Seeds
The seeds can be harvested once the flower heads are dry. You can harvest your lettuce seeds in two distinct ways.
One, simply holds a paper or plastic bag near the plant and every day shake the flower head into the bag until most of the ripened seed is harvested.
Another way is to wait until most of the seed heads look ready to harvest, then remove the flower stalk entirely, and shake it very well over a bucket or bag so that seeds that have become ripe can fall into it.
Either way, you can harvest your lettuce seeds although the second method is easier as the seeds are already ripe for harvest.
Separating and getting the seeds from the chaff
After the seeds are harvested, separate the seeds from the chaff, pour the seeds into a shallow dish or tray, and gently turn the fan nearby.
The fan will blow away the unwanted chaff. But if you don’t want to use a fan, you can put the seeds and chaff in a bowl or dish and blow lightly with your mouth.
After removing the chaff, put the seeds in a clean, dry plastic food storage bag or Mason jar, seal and label, and then store them in a cool and dry place.
You don’t need very many plants to produce seeds. You can get as many seeds as possible from lettuce plants. This will provide you with more than enough seed for the next harvest.