Sunday, September 14, 2008

Saving Lettuce Seed

It's crazy how intimidating new things like saving seeds can seem. But perhaps it will be like many other things... once done, simple to repeat.

This year I let all my lettuce bolt (see varieties mentioned in the previous post. Also grown this spring was Italian Lacinato nero Toscana Kale, an heirloom variety). Sadly my hands were full with fermenting and canning projects, so gardening and growing were not on the top of the priority list. Instead we chose to enjoy the colors and shapes in the lettuces, allowing them to grow and flower once they were bitter and no longer edible.

These bolted adolescent lettuces seem to be seeking not only acceptance but a chance for the next generation to survive! I'm finding it difficult to find consistent information on saving lettuce seed. Any suggestions on how to save the seeds from our Butterhead Speckles lettuce?

The description on this Butterhead Speckles lettuce package from Botanical Interests, Inc. is appealing: An heirloom that originated from the Mennonites who brought it with them from Germany and Holland over 200 years ago.

Here's some info that I'm guessing is pretty accurate,
found on

Seed Saving Instructions for Lettuce
Self-pollinated. Lettuce varieties will not cross pollinate with each other even at short distances, but beware of any wild lettuce which can cross with lettuce. Allow plants to "bolt" and eventually flower. Under wet conditions lettuce plants may need to be covered with a rain cover or grown in a greenhouse to prevent fungus from infecting the plant and seed heads. Carefully shake the seedheads into a paper bag to allow the mature seeds to be collected while leaving the immature seeds and flowers to keep growing. Gather every few days until no more seeds remain. Also, you can simply harvest the entire plant when about half of the seeds are mature and allow the rest to mature inside by standing up the plants in a box and on a cloth or tarp. Use an 1/8" screen to help with cleaning. Lettuce seed can remain viable for 3 years under cool and dry storage conditions

No comments: