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Perennial Lettuce?

 
Rion Mather
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Last summer I purchased a cheap lettuce mix seed packet and planted it to see what happened. The plants grew well until fall and I left a few out there. They died out but I walked up to the garden last night and I see that three are growing back. What is up? I thought lettuce was an annual?
 
Corey Fin
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Many lettuce cultivars self seed.
 
Rion Mather
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This is actually new growth coming from the plant that died over winter...or that I thought had died.
 
Corey Fin
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Depending on the variety of lettuce and where you live its possible that the plant didn't fully die and part of the crown is growing back.
 
Amedean Messan
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Hmmm, Rion, could you upload a picture?
 
Jordan Lowery
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I've seen this around here, I try to get lettuce to self seed as much as possible. So more than a few times I let the weak die off, every now and then one would resprout at what seemed almost moments from death. It would then usually send up a stalk and bloom. Since it was hardy I let it seed.

Now when one blooms, sets seed, goes dormant, and comes back in the fall. I'll be a happy person. For now I eat other perennial greens.
 
Rick Roman
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Hi Rion, In Pa, the winter months have been crazy warm. I don't think the ground completely froze, at least not like it use to. This is the first year that parsley and kale have survived the winter.
 
Rion Mather
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Here are pictures of two of the plants. They are pretty terrible but it is cold and rainy outside (see earthworm in top pic).



 
Rion Mather
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I have decided to try to get a perennial lettuce/kale bed going here in Zone 5. I am using grass clippings this year as mulch which should help this along. I have also started kale seeds successfully. One good sign is that I already had a critter take lunch with one of the heads of lettuce. For the winter I am going to have to figure out some kind of mini plastic greenhouse that will make it through the snow. Anyway, this will be fun.
 
Jamie Heaney
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Location: Southern Maine
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Surprising it survived zone 5, though many lettuces are cold hardy. Some people take the 'butt' of celery and lettuces, and soak in water for about a week to start root and leaf before replanting, and one can regenerate many of those varieties. It seems your butts made it through the winter and are doing just this. I 'think' it is important that the butt goes through a travesty to regenerate otherwise it will go bitter and seed as normal.
 
Rion Mather
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Jamie Heaney wrote: I 'think' it is important that the butt goes through a travesty to regenerate otherwise it will go bitter and seed as normal.


I believe it. I will cut them back to keep them regenerating. Maybe it will work, maybe not. It is worth the try. At least I will have some Kale. I have read from the threads on here of posters harvesting in the winter.
 
Rosalind Riley
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Hi Rion

Forgive me if I'm doing the grandmother/suck eggs thing, but have you tasted the new growth? Old lettuce gets very bitter, usually as it prepares to go to seed, and you may find that it's not edible (though chickens will love it). I'd be interested to know if that's not the case!

You mention Kale and this is indeed a good crop to pick all winter. I thoroughly recommend Russian Red Kale as a different taste with very high hardiness, very tender - cooks to a dark green and has a sweetness different from most Kales. I have been picking the flower shoots this Spring and steaming them (Curly Kale shoots too) and they are lovely, though becoming rather strong flavoured as time goes by and they are REALLY trying to flower. Once they've flowered they're done and you have to start again of course.

Best wishes
 
Rion Mather
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Rosalind Riley wrote:Hi Rion

Forgive me if I'm doing the grandmother/suck eggs thing, but have you tasted the new growth? Old lettuce gets very bitter, usually as it prepares to go to seed, and you may find that it's not edible (though chickens will love it). I'd be interested to know if that's not the case!

You mention Kale and this is indeed a good crop to pick all winter. I thoroughly recommend Russian Red Kale as a different taste with very high hardiness, very tender - cooks to a dark green and has a sweetness different from most Kales. I have been picking the flower shoots this Spring and steaming them (Curly Kale shoots too) and they are lovely, though becoming rather strong flavoured as time goes by and they are REALLY trying to flower. Once they've flowered they're done and you have to start again of course.

Best wishes


Actually, I was surprised that the lettuce didn't have a bitter taste when I first discovered it. Maybe as it gets older the taste will deteriorate. In any case, I still want to grow it through another winter. I have scratched the greenhouse idea. I really want to see if the plants can survive through a harsh season with as little help along as possible.

I picked up Dwarf Blue Curled, Vate's Strain of Kale. I have never grown Kale before so I don't even know if that was a good buy. I bought Kale mainly because of the winter harvest threads on here.
 
Rosalind Riley
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I'm sure that variety will be good - the dwarf ones are less prone to being blown about if you are in an exposed position but seem to crop well. We grow regular curly kale (I don't know what variety as my mum-in-law gives us the plants) and the Russian kale as well.

One plant which I'm always surprised does not feature more is lamb's lettuce (also called corn salad or mache) - once you've let it seed in your veg patch you have it forever. I let it seed over empty beds and it will stand all winter and be edible all winter too (we go down to about -10 C which is about 14 F). Then in the spring it flowers, or you can catch it before it does and dig it in, or just compost it as it's not pernicious in any way. I've just pulled up a barrow-load of flowering plants to feed the compost and free up a patch to grow peas. It can get everwhere but you just hoe it off, it's not perennial. You can pick it really small too - if you have it everywhere you're not worried about leaving it to grow on.

I wouldn't say it's an exciting salad for flavour but it's tender and a lovely green and gives a contrast to lettuce. It's classic with grated beetroot.
 
Rion Mather
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Rosalind Riley wrote:I'm sure that variety will be good - the dwarf ones are less prone to being blown about if you are in an exposed position but seem to crop well. We grow regular curly kale (I don't know what variety as my mum-in-law gives us the plants) and the Russian kale as well.

One plant which I'm always surprised does not feature more is lamb's lettuce (also called corn salad or mache) - once you've let it seed in your veg patch you have it forever. I let it seed over empty beds and it will stand all winter and be edible all winter too (we go down to about -10 C which is about 14 F). Then in the spring it flowers, or you can catch it before it does and dig it in, or just compost it as it's not pernicious in any way. I've just pulled up a barrow-load of flowering plants to feed the compost and free up a patch to grow peas. It can get everwhere but you just hoe it off, it's not perennial. You can pick it really small too - if you have it everywhere you're not worried about leaving it to grow on.

I wouldn't say it's an exciting salad for flavour but it's tender and a lovely green and gives a contrast to lettuce. It's classic with grated beetroot.


Lamb's Lettuce/corn salad/mache. Never heard of it. I will have to check with my man to see if he has. Love that suggestion. My garden isn't big enough for it this year but I will bookmark this thread to try Lamb's Lettuce in the future.
 
Rosalind Riley
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Location: Kent, South-east England, UK
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If you're in America I'm pretty sure you're more likely to find it under Corn Salad - seem to remember it from a book I read. It's small and quick-growing so you could grow it between the Kale plants and have it for summer salad too.

Found a useful article on it here: http://www.nwitimes.com/niche/shore/home-and-garden/corn-salad-is-hardy-and-easy-to-grow/article_33677ceb-5e11-54cb-ad98-efa8d6f00b0b.html - the picture is really good too.

Apparently in the US it's become a naturalised weed so you might already have it somewhere!
 
Jason Padvorac
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Hi Rion! If you are still around here, I'd love if you could give us an update on the lettuce.
 
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