Time to face the truth: I'm not nearly ruthless enough to grow salad. Reading this has given me the courage to confess my own similar dilemma with the vegetable patch - like its author, I just can't bring myself to do thinning out.
I know you have to pull out the weedy/surplus seedlings so the rest have space to grow. But a combination of stinginess - I hate throwing away perfectly good (embryonic) rocket - and soppiness makes me wimp out every time.
Surely if the spindly, yellowing ones were lavished with a few weeks of top quality fertiliser/sunshine/twice-daily watering/private education, they too could grow up to be spinach! All that potential gone to waste is so sad. Even if it was only ever destined to be lettuce.
This deep feebleness has, of course, resulted in a salad jungle: vast thickets of red mustard, great tangles of rocket - none of which will mature properly because they don't actually have any room.
My fellow garden wimp, Douglas Carswell, saw his veg patch as a metaphor for coalition government: weak policies have to be weeded out to let other ideas flourish. Hmm. My overcrowded, stunted lettuces are reminding me more of the first law of working parenthood: you can't do everything, and failure to prioritise only means nothing gets done well.