Often I speak about saving money, but today I want to talk about saving lettuce seeds! In June we went away for two weeks. My garden had all been planted and I had some wonderful Butter Crunch lettuce that was coming along nicely. It just wasn’t ready to pick yet.
When we got home the lettuce had bolted. Rather than pick it and feed it to the chickens I decided to let it go to seed and collect the seeds. Because the plants were isolated and I didn’t have any other lettuce going to seed I didn’t worry about cross-pollination. Lettuce is an inbreeding plant. Lettuce flowers form in heads of 10-25 individual florets. Each floret is one celled and produces one seed. Lettuce seeds ripen irregularly and are ready for harvest from 12-24 days after flowering. The easiest way to collect the most seeds is to shake the seed heads daily into a large grocery bag that is then stored in a dry area.
More than half of the seed volume will be white lettuce feathers and chaff.
It is best to use a fine mesh screen to separate the seeds.
Lettuce seeds will remain viable for three years when stored in a cool, dry, dark location. I have a bunch of little envelopes that are perfect for storing seeds. Be sure to label your seeds!
Hopefully next year I will plant these lettuce seeds and enjoy a nice harvest!
If you are interested in learning how to save seeds one of the best books around is Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth.