By Llyn Peabody
can seem intimidating at first. I know I felt that way. Many
vegetables will cross with their neighbors yielding inconsistent
results. There are many questions that must be answered before moving
forward. For this reason I definitely recommend Suzanne Ashworth's "Seed
to Seed". It is a comprehensive manual that covers all aspects of
seed-saving. I am also grateful to my husband, Chris, for all he has
taught me from his 40+ years of gardening. He's helped me translate the
book knowledge into experiential learning. Saving seed appeals to the
outlaw in me, I guess. Like treating illness with herbs I grew myself,
there is something empowering about developing skills usually left to
"the experts". As it turns out, it's not really that difficult at all.
If you grow your own lettuce, as the weather warms, it's not uncommon to have some of it "bolt" (try to go to seed). Saving lettuce seed is fairly easy and a good entry-point for those new to the process. Here is a re-publishing of a post we wrote back in 2011 but the information is just as relevant today. Happy seed-saving :-).
Saving your own seed is an important aspect of developing local food self-reliance. Relying on commercial seed farmers may become increasingly unreliable as climate change disrupts weather patterns and seed crops falter. Growing your own seed slowly modifies your plants to be uniquely suited to your micro-climate and growing conditions. Networking with other seed-savers in your area builds a sense of community. LINK: Locally Sustainable Gardening in the Face of Supply-Chain Shortages
|Note: Be sure there is no wild lettuce that is forming seed near the varieties of domesticated lettuce you are saving seed from as it can cross. The plants that grow from these crossed seeds tend to be more bitter and course. There are several varieties of wild lettuce; this one is named Lactuca Serriola LINK.|
To winnow the seeds, roll the flowers between your fingers and the palms of your hands to free them . Lettuce seed is challenging to separate because the seeds are not much heavier than the chaff. Patiently drop small amounts of the seed/chaff over a tray, from a height of a foot or two while blowing gently. The seed should drop and the fluff blow away. Some people run the seed through screens but we have not tried this method. Commercially available seed-sifting screens are another option. They have different sized holes.