You will have to bear with me for this post, if you aren’t also a gardening nerd, but i am so excited to write up the results of the lettuce trials from the fall/ winter season!
I grew 15 kinds of open-pollinated lettuce, some were varieties I know I like and always grow, but most of them were from seeds generously provided by Working Food’s Southern Heritage Seed Collective. Many of the varieties I’ve never grown, and some I had never heard of. I really loved all these varieties of lettuce, and would happily grow them again. They all tasted differently and had different textures and colors.
Vegetable varieties are like recipes, everyone has their own personal tastes about what they like and don’t like about certain vegetables. One person might like really sweet winter squash, while someone else will be happiest with something that just produces well. One person might want very sweet mild lettuce, some else might prefer more flavor. Some lettuces were crispy while others were tender.
That said, we loved and enjoyed them all, in all their different textures, tastes and colors, and these are my notes about each variety:
Black Seeded Simpson
A bright green lettuce with large, tender leaves, unfortunately it bolted quickly. In the taste test, where it was compared to the other lettuce varieties, it had a very mild flavor, not much sweetness, but no bitterness either, just very mild.
I’ve grown this lettuce before and love how beautiful and prolific it is. Cold weather makes the leaves a more bronze color. It’s a sweet-flavored lettuce. It’s not a crispy lettuce. It is beautiful in salads.
I wasn’t sure what to think of the name of this lettuce when I first grew it a few years ago, and it surprised me by becoming a favorite. Drunken Woman is a beautiful frilly lettuce with red on the frilly edges of its leaves. It grows quickly and is slow to bolt, and it has a wonderful sweet flavor. I have no idea how it got it’s name, but it’s one I will always grow!
Ear Of The Devil
This was the first time I’ve ever grown or heard of this lettuce. It’s a gorgeous red- tinged lettuce with huge spear-like leaves. It re-grew quickly from being harvested. The leaves are not crispy, and are slightly tougher than a butterhead type lettuce, but the flavor is surprisingly sweet, even in warmer weather, and it is very slow to bolt.
This is a pretty lime green lettuce with very frilly, scalloped leaves. It has a very mild flavor, similar to black seeded Simpson. It makes a beautiful head of lettuce and is also slow to bolt.
This is a beautiful lettuce with leaves that swirl around a crispy head, with a touch of red. It was very sweet and crispy, comparable to the texture of the popular iceberg lettuce, but with much more flavor. It wasn’t the first to bolt, but wasn’t as bolt resistant in warm weather as Ear of the Devil lettuce.
This is a very beautiful, colorful lettuce. The dark red leaves are gorgeous in the garden and the kitchen. The flavor is mild and sweet, and it has a romaine- like texture.
A romaine-type lettuce with large, crisp leaves with a lot of sweetness and flavor.
This lettuce is supposed to be very slow to bolt, and can be grown in warmer weather. It’s a romaine type, and is slow to bolt, and not as sweet as the other romaine type varieties i grew.
Reine Des Glaces
This “Ice Queen” lettuce was a favorite. It has a very interesting frosty look about it. The leaves are very crisp and sweet. It grew quickly and made beautiful heads with pointy edges.
This had the best flavor of any of the romaine type lettuce, but it bolted first. It produced huge heads of large, crispy leaves with very good sweet flavor. I liked it better than Crisp Mint, a variety i didn’t grow this year, but i have grown in gardens past.
This lettuce was beautiful and had much better flavor than Forellenschluss (or however you spell it), which I’ve grown before. It made huge, beautiful, red-speckled heads, and the leaves were gorgeous in salads. It was also slow to bolt.
Sword Leaf Lettuce
This one has been a favorite of mine since I first grew it several years ago. The leaves are incredibly sweet, even after bolting, and they are so long you don’t need many to make a nice salad. It’s very easy to grow and grows quickly. I haven’t tried it, but i wonder if the stems could be eaten like celtuce. I’m growing out side by side with celtuce, and they are very similar.
Yugoslavian Red Butterhead
This was one of the first kinds of lettuce I was actually successful at growing. It has rounded, red tipped leaves and makes beautiful rosette- like heads. It is sweet and flavorful.
This is a very sweet lettuce, that has romaine- like leaves, but is more tender than crisp. It tastes very sweet and mild, and was slow to bolt.
Thanks for reading! I hope this information here is helpful in your own gardening adventures!
9 Comments Add yours
You really did well with yours, and got some real goodies to trial. Some of us get some real duds that are difficult to write good things about.
Hahaha! I guess i did get lucky!
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Thank you for this! My partner and I were literally just going through a seed catalogue trying to decide what lettuce seeds to get. I like crunch and he just doesn’t like lettuce at all. To be fair, I’m a little iffy on it, but I want to eat more and it rows well. This was a very helpful post. Thank you!
Thanks for reading! Best of luck with your garden this season!
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So many varieties. We grow lettuce to feed to our tortoises. I may need to start growing some more interesting flavors for them! Too cool.
I’m sure they would love that! Thanks for reading!
I live in the northern climes of Canada, and the only lettuce seeds they sell up here are green leaf lettuce, if that is even a variety. Along with a few regular store varieties, I never knew there were so many other varieties available. Can you recommend anything for a short hot growing season, with plenty of early frosts. Also plenty of sunlight, upwards of 20 hours a day. I prefer sweet and crunchy. My partner hates lettuce–I would love to find a variety she would like, if not love.
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That is such a different climate than i am used to! Our lettuce growing season is during the dark days of winter. Also, hot for you is like what, 80F? It’s possible that the green leaf lettuce is the only variety that performs reliably in your climate, but i am never daunted by that sort of thing. The best thing to do is to grow out many kinds and see how they do. Adaptive Seeds, a company out in the Pacific northwest, might have some good varieties for similar conditions.
Thanks for the suggestions.