Lettuce entertain you...

on Thursday, February 4, 2010

January 18th - that's when I planted the leek, lettuce and parsley seeds. I'm sure I'll be starting more lettuce and herb seeds later, and that first round was it for the leeks. I'll talk about herbs later. It miiiight have been a bit premature with the lettuce planting, but I'm experimenting - can I start them this early and have any success at growing them to harvest in the basement? If not, can I start them this early indoors and then transplant them outside under a cold frame when it's still going to be freezing cold out? We'll shall see!

One of the interesting things about starting with your own seeds is seeing how fast or slow they decide to germinate. So on the same day I started five varieties of lettuce. Just over two weeks later, these Black Seeded Simpson seedlings are going gangbusters! They're a bit floppy because they've lead a very sheltered life so far, and then I started pointing a small fan at them occasionally, and just before this picture they got watered with a mix of worm-pee (say what!?) and water...

This was their first watering since being seeded, and I took a risk and watered them from above (usually when they're this tender I'll add the water to a tray beneath them, and let their soil soak it up. I was feeling lazy, and have plenty of time to risk needing to start over...) Black Seeded Simpon is a typical loose-leaf lettuce, with a very "shaggy" structure. They're nice filler in a homegrown salad, but don't have a lot of distinctive character...

Next door to the Black Seeded Simpson are these Parris Island Cos seedlings - and as you can see, they're no where CLOSE to the Black Seeded Simpson in development. Give 'em time - they'll catch up. Parris Island Cos is a cos-type lettuce....which to you and me typically means "Romaine". Romaine, or cos, lettuces are the more upright, firm and crisp lettuces that you'd typically use in a Caesar salad.

Another cos type lettuce I've started, and equally slow to get sprouting, is Cimarron. Like Parris Island, Cimarron is a crisp, upright Romaine lettuce, but it's leaves will be more of a burgundy color once it matures. Kinda hard to believe when you look at these little green sprouts, hunh? (Btw - you'll probably notice my little markers on the seed-starting flat are often misspelled. I write them in a hurry, and usually with the lettuces I don't worry about labeling the varieties when I get them in the garden. Sure - I PLAN to...but why bother? You're just going to mix them all together in a salad anyhow!)

Unfortunately, not all the varieties of lettuce I seeded have sprouted, such as Sierra here... I jotted down that this is a Batavia type lettuce - which seems to mean it's a loose-leaf lettuce, but perhaps one with a bit more of a rounded shape than that very shaggy Black Seeded Simpson I mentioned earlier.

Also not willing to sprout was the Lollo Rosa here...or not here actually. Lollo Rossa is a dark burgundy loose leaf lettuce - I really like growing a mix of the green and red lettuces since they look so nice combined in a salad. Don't worry - these were probably just old seeds (I have PLENTY of lettuce seeds from previous years), and I'll just try starting some other varieties in the upcoming weeks.


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