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Saving Seeds: Lettuce

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Forum: Saving SeedsReplies: 9, Views: 356
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ohiorganic
New Paris, OH

March 31, 2001
4:29 PM

Post #3068

Lettuce is another really easy seed to save as the plants are self pollinators and can have as little as 2' of isolation. Plant your lettuce seed and let them bolt. at gthis point rogue out (get rid of) any plants showing traits you don't like-fast to bolt, slow growing heads, bad color etc., and keep only those you want. You should be left with at least 6 heads for genetic diversity. I know I just said they are self pollination but there is always a little bit of genetic drift.

When the plants bolt they are a few weeks from making seed heads. watch for flowering and than watch for the seeds to develop. They are ready to harvest when the fuzz turns white and fluffy and the seeds are brown (or black or white-what ever the color was that you started with). Collect the seeds in a paper bag (lunch bag size is large enough) with the fuzz. lkater clean the fluff off and store. I store these seeds in the freezer as I have had bugs get into them in the past and they don't mind it being cold.

Brook
Richmond, KY
(Zone 6b)

March 31, 2001
6:23 PM

Post #63897

What are you growing this year? I've got 12 varieties going, mixed leaf and head types. First batch went in two weeks ago, and is just starting to germinate. Hopefully, I'll get the second batch in this week (if it stops raining), and the last batch two weeks after that.
ohiorganic
New Paris, OH

March 31, 2001
6:26 PM

Post #63898

Right now I have some hybrid head lettuce for market and I have not planted any seed lettuce yet.

I will plant forelleschluss, winter density and green deer tongue definately and perhaps oak leaf and some red types. i haven't tried saving hybrid seeds but I think I will try to see what happens.
dave

March 31, 2001
6:27 PM

Post #63899

I'm growing iceberg, Black seeded Simpson, Drunken Woman, and romaine. I sowed these seeds about a month ago, and they are just now starting to get in their first true leaves.

I did transplant about a hundred icebergs out about a month ago, and they are doing great! they look like they have little tiny heads forming.

Dave
Brook
Richmond, KY
(Zone 6b)

March 31, 2001
6:28 PM

Post #63900

Saving hybrid seeds will probably be an excersize in futility, so far as true-to-type purity is concerned. Unless you want to go through the bother of dehybidizing it.

But, with so many great OP varieties, why go through all that?
ohiorganic
New Paris, OH

March 31, 2001
6:35 PM

Post #63905

I am figuring that because lettuce is a self pollinator, like beans, there really are no true hybrids out there and that the seeds should come back true. I may be wrong but hey, I have the seed, the time and the room to try it.
Brook
Richmond, KY
(Zone 6b)

March 31, 2001
6:43 PM

Post #63908

Go for it!

Let us know how you make out.

Brook
Richmond, KY
(Zone 6b)

March 31, 2001
7:08 PM

Post #63913

One other point about lettuce that makes it easy to save seed. Different varieites bloom at different times, and, in some cases, the flowers remain fertile for as little as an hour. Thus, if variety A blooms in, say, 45 days, and variety B blooms in 46 days, there is little liklihood of them crossing.

I have friends who grow lettuces in rows as little as 3" apart, and they say they've never had crosses. I think 3" is crowding the plants (would be okay for a cut & come again patch, but not for seed saving), but find the concept of purity at that distance credible.

ohiorganic
New Paris, OH

April 1, 2001
5:15 PM

Post #64220

I have grown different types of lettuce less than a foot apart and had pure seed come back
Brook
Richmond, KY
(Zone 6b)

April 1, 2001
5:52 PM

Post #64242

Certainly. A foot is plenty, really, for lettuces.

You know, you almost have to work at it to get lettuces to cross at all. They are so self-sufficient in terms of self-pollinating, when they blossom, period of fertility (which is never very long), etc. etc. The true lone-wolfs of the garden.

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