Have you ever wondered where lettuce seed comes from? It’s a question I wondered about for many, many years. I wondered if they were somehow hidden within the leaves, or base of the head, whether the farmers removed all of the seeds before sending the heads off to market, or just re-grew them from the root.
Until I actually began growing my own lettuce, I had no idea where the seed came from.
I can’t tell you how many people have asked me, when strolling through my garden, “What is that thing growing over there?” “That”, I say, now, “is where lettuce seed comes from!”
It happens when you leave a head of lettuce in the ground for an entire season. It bolts, flowers, and then “goes to seed” — just like that!
Saving the seed is really easy to do…
When the buds have little, cotton-y flowers, simply pick off the buds, one by one…
then squeeze the bud at the base, releasing the seeds…
…Roll the seed pod around between your fingers to separate the seeds from the chaff, then put the seeds into a clean, dry envelope for saving. (I like to use the original packet, after I’ve planted all of the seed, that the parent plant seeds came in since it is already printed with the name of the plant and contains all of the pertinent planting instructions).
This particular lettuce seed is a Rouge Grenoblaise and originally came from Bountiful Gardens. I can’t wait to see if I’ve done my seed-saving correctly — one thing I did not do to ensure purity was to separate it, by at least twenty feet, from other varieties that are blooming at the same time, as recommended by the International Seed Saving Institute, so I can’t be ensured that I’m going to get daughter plants that are identical to this parent.
I really admire the true “seed savers” who painstakingly work to preserve organic, heirloom, open-pollinated seeds all over the world. It can be quite a complex process, and the work that they are doing is so important to our food supply!
~ If you’d like to learn more about the importance and techniques of seed saving, Seed Savers Exchange has a wealth of information.
~ TIME online also has a great photo diary of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway, whose purpose is to “preserve a wide variety of plant seeds from locations worldwide in an underground cavern, part of an effort to protect the planet’s rapidly diminishing biodiversity. ”
Before I sign out, besides lettuce, here are a couple of other plants that have gone to seed in my garden. Do you recognize the kinds? They are just about ready to harvest for saving, too!
Do you know whether, or not, the types of fruits and veggies you’re growing are good for seed saving? How much experience do you have with saving your own seed?