The Milkman’s child amongst the green Amish Deer Tongue seedlings
I’ve been saving most of my seeds from one year to another for a few years now. In some instances, growing things to save their seed is actually more arduous than growing the plants to simply be eaten…but some veggies are not so very hard or complicated. Beans are probably the easiest, right up there with saving seed potatoes from one year to the next. Lettuce, thankfully, falls in the “easy” category.
A couple of years back, I mentioned my slam-bang way of saving lettuce seed. Likewise, planting the autumn volunteers from the fallen seed of blooming plants is another way we keep our greenhouse in salad all winter, as is planting little greenhouse volunteers. But one thing I haven’t really addressed is the potential for cross-pollination amongst the various lettuce types that I grow.
I hadn’t really noticed much change when I harvested seeds from same-colored, different-leaved types of lettuce in times past: the genotype for leaf expression must remain fairly steady between generations. But what I have discovered, happily, is the variant for both color and spotting seems to be fairly readily cross-pollinated. So, what the hell does this mean? It means I get spots from my Freckles Romaine on the second generation of Amish Deer Tongue lettuces that grew next to it. It means I get a blush on the green Bibb lettuce that grew next to Red Sails, a loose-leaf lettuce. It’s not happening all the time, but maybe 5% of the time; it’s fascinating to me.
Please, tell me that I’m pretty
I figure I have the next 50 years of my life to kind of figure out this whole botany thing. But for now, I just say, look, let’s eat that pretty salad.