Last fall the folks at Sow True Seed asked me to “trial” some Winter Density lettuce and try to capture it on film. So, in my typical Xtreme Gardening style — sow seeds any time that the ground isn’t frozen hard — I ended up putting a packet of seeds in the ground around the first of November. That’s late!
But I really wanted to see how that beautifully named lettuce would do in the coldest conditions. See if and when it would germinate.
The results are in, and as of March 1, after about two months of prolonged sub-freezing weather plus ice and heavy rains, there is lettuce coming up. The leaves are crisp and a nice bright-dark green, even if they are only a few inches high just now.
If these seeds had been sown earlier in the fall, perhaps in September or October, there would probably be a dense crop of big leaves by now. Under a blanket of snow, for instance, lettuce that is well underway by the first frost can go on to produce heavily in temperatures close to zero.
As it is, I expect those first small leaves to put on big growth during March, with warming soil, some good rain, and a little TLC from a trowel to break up the soil a bit. Mulch later in the spring might keep the harvest going even longer.
Winter Destiny lettuce looks like a winner, and I need to do an early spring planting as well. It obviously likes cool temperatures.
Written by Sow True Garden Ambassador, Nan Chase
P.S. If you’re in a pinch for parsley while in the middle of a recipe — in the middle of winter, in the middle of nowhere — the tiny leaves of emerging Winter Density lettuce can be mixed with other small foliage: fennel, Swiss chard, cilantro. Just cut the leaves with food scissors, rather than chopping them to death with a knife, and combine. Add to recipe — same texture and similar flavor to parsley leaves.