Heirloom Lettuce: What’s in a Name?

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I purchased two packets of heirloom lettuce seeds from Annie’s Heirloom Seeds the winter of 2010 and planted them the following spring: Romaine Lettuce Blend and Red Salad Bowl. The Romaine Lettuce Blend contained seeds for Forellenschluss, Paris Island Cos, Amish Deer Tongue, Marvel of Four Seasons, and Rouge d’Hiver. The Red Salad Bowl is a classic red leaf lettuce, delicate, abundant and easy to grow. Actually, all of the lettuce seeds except for Rouge D’Hiver came up fairly quickly and grew like weeds. I just sow all of my lettuce seeds together in the same bed; no rows, no sections. They all just get scattered, light covering of soil and watered.

Marvel of Four Seasons

Marvel of Four Seasons

Marvel of Four Seasons

This curly French heirloom head lettuce is just now going to seed after growing in the garden for 2 months. When they begin to reach this stage, I cut the plant back to approximately 2 inches and it grows again, tender and sweet. Lovely texture and lovely taste.

Marvel of Four Seasons can range from this soft green with red edges to nearly completely dark red depending on the weather.

Forellenschluss

Forellenschluss

Forellenschluss


This Romaine lettuce is so pretty, growing tall and slender. Delicate flavor and texture (because I harvest all of my lettuce while young).

Amish Deer Tongue

Amish Deer Tongue

Amish Deer Tongue


Another lovely heirloom Romaine, this one is my favorite. I just love the name. It has a little more body so is perfect for sandwiches or burgers. This would be a good variety to transport to a Farmer’s Market, being not so delicate.

Paris Island Cos

Paris Island Cos

Paris Island Cos


This is the traditional heirloom Romaine lettuce. I like the flavor of Amish Deer Tongue better but this is wider and might be preferred for salads. As with my other lettuces, I harvest this fairly young, just cutting the leaves off and leaving 2″ of the plant so I can get second and third harvests.

Red Salad Bowl

Red Salad Bowl

Red Salad Bowl


This is a gorgeous loose leaf lettuce, curly, delicate and delicious. As delicate as this variety is, it seemed to stand out as an easy germinator and survivor. It might just be its bold color and spreading growth.

I think I’ll grow the same lettuces again next year, maybe adding Little Gem Lettuce, a tiny, personal-sized head lettuce. All of these lettuces have been slow to bolt, allow cutting and regrowing, and grew with only a few hours of sun each day. The limited sunlight probably contributed to the slow bolting characteristics of these lettuces, so either a shaded garden (grow a trellis of peas or cucumbers above) or in a partly sunny spot might be great if you live in the south.

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