Friday, May 7, 2010

Growing Romaine Lettuce

I grew this unusual romaine lettuce called Bath Cos because I had never grown romaine lettuce before and wanted to try it from the garden. It is an old English variety that originated in the eighteenth century. It definitely has more punch than the store bought romaine lettuce. It has a slight mild sweet perfume like aftertaste that can't be adequately described. I like strong lettuce tastes and enjoyed growing this lettuce, although my wife didn't like it and enjoys more mild varieties. It was productive and then set seed before the end of the season. I'd grow it again. Here is a picture when it was still small and of course heavily picked.
Here are some instructions how to save lettuce seed from the International Seed Saving Institute. It is so easy. I don't see why everyone doesn't grow their own lettuce and save seed. 

Remember when picking lettuce leaves to break off the leaves not pull up the plant. Once the center starts to spike up and flower stop picking the lettuce because it will start to become bitter. The plants should all flower roughly at the same time within a few weeks of each other. I usually pull out the first couple plants that bloom much earlier than the rest and don't save seeds from those. If you continuously save seed from the early blooming plants, then it will cut into the length of your harvest. It is wise to save seeds from those plants that flower later in the season but soon enough that you'll get seed well before the first frost. The flowers are generally self pollinating and when the flowers die and dry out on the plants you can rub the seeds out of them and blow away the chaff. Store them in a bead bag (mini ziplock bag) that can be found at most craft stores or make some paper seed packets of your own.

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