Heirloom lettuce

matersingardenFebruary 6, 2007

I want to know what people think about heirloom lettuce. What varieties do you like? Why do some people prefer heirloom lettuce over hybrid?

The reason I ask is I want to grow pretty looking lettuce(leaf and romaine), I don't want any more dull salads. I want something different this year and I thought about trying heirlooms.

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I grow an heirloom, which I got through the Seed Savers Exchange in the early 90s. It has the "original" name of "No Name Red Leaf Lettuce." It's a good one, though it tends to bolt very quickly in hot or dry weather. My wife insists it's the best she's had.

We also like it, because wherever we've grown it (3 states in the US and two in Mexico) it volunteers freely. I remember the original SSE description mentioned that it had been grown and maintained for 50 years by a woman in Ohio. She had it in her window box, where it volunteered every year!

Really my only preference for open pollinated over hybrid is that I don't want to pay through the nose for seed every year.

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 11:12AM
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I don't think I have ever seen a hybrid lettuce? One of the few vegetables that are all OP.

Perhaps I am wrong.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 2:06PM
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If you want great salads, just sow any seed mixes that are already pre-mixed from any commercial company. There are several out there, from Martha Stewart seeds at KMart to seed packets in nurseries and those garden centers. I have never seen any "hybrid" lettuces in these mixes, and if your have a mild climate like mine, and let them go to seed, they do reseed themselves every year. But because of unstable conditions nowadays, where we can't depend on rain and temps, I have started to save some. But the mixes are so cheap, they last about three years for me anyways, so sometimes it is not worth the bother of saving, unless there is one variety I really want more of. Try different kinds of mixes--there are spicy greens, mild greens, etc. you have to read the packet.
Once you grow your own, you will never want to pay those high prices for baby gourmet greens again! Try it!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2007 at 7:26PM
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npthaskell(coastal oregon)

Wild Garden seeds has lots of interesting lettuces: some ancient heirlooms, some brand new selections from recent crosses, and some recently dropped commercial varieties.

Do you like a pure intense red? Then Merlot may be for you.

They have lots of intense red tipped leaves with green bases: Mascara (oak), Oscarde (oak), Outredgous (romain).

Cardinale is a batavian (a "loose leaf iceberg") with purple tips and green bases.

I'm not into speckled, but they also have several red speckled over green leaf types as well. Some of these are ancient heirlooms.

I remember shopping in the 70's or 80's; when supermarket "red" lettuce was what I would call "bronze". I guess that the first intense red cultivars emerged about 1980 or so.

Some Wild Garden Seeds are resold by Johnny's, Territorial, Fedco & others.

While Wild Garden Seeds mostly selects the most disease resistant heirlooms, discontinued modern cultivars, and their new crosses...

...Johnny's has many brand new cultivars from Europe where breeders have been crossing wild lettuces with modern lines for disease resistance. An example is the red oakleaf "Aruba" and the green romaine "Comanche". I personally embrace both the old and the new.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wild Garden Seeds

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 4:58AM
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Merlot sounds pretty!!!!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 2:49PM
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npthaskell(coastal oregon)

> Merlot sounds pretty!!!!

It sure is.

The veggie forum at Garden Web just had a thread about Merlot, with pictures of indoor grown baby plants. The plants get much redder when transfered outdoors.

Merlot is also known as "Galactic" (eg., at Johnny's).

Here is a link that might be useful: Merlot Thread

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 4:17PM
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Merlot is very pretty, it is my favorite lettuce so far of the reds.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 1:30AM
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