Being in the Deep South is great for having a long growing season. However, the heat and humidity that can come with it can also limit which varieties to grow.
For lettuce, we decided to try Simpson Black Seeded Lettuce. It was told to us that it should do well in the heat.
Simpson is a leaf lettuce that grows on a stalk that can get about 36 inches high. You simply pluck the leaves as it grows, starting at the bottom, until it starts to show flower heads.
Finding the Seed:
If you have ever seen the seed head of a Dandelion, then you know what to look for on a Simpson Black Seeded Lettuce plant. However, just like a Dandelion, the seeds will be happy to take flight as soon as they are fully open and a gentle breeze comes by.
Because of that you need to be looking for a seed head that is just about to open. You can start to see the feathery pieces (excuse the scientific talk here) sticking out, as though it is ready to bloom.
This is when you should harvest it. Just pinch right behind the bud and nip it off of the stem.
Separating the Seed:
Now that you have this seed pod, as it were, you need to get the seeds out! Here is how I did it:
- Start by working over a dry clear table that will be easy to collect the tiny seeds from when you are done.
- Pinch the feathery pieces in one hand while you peel off the rest of the husk with your other.
- Discard the husk to the side.
- You should now see the seeds. Take your free hand and scrape or scratch them loose.
- Discard the feathery pieces.
- Repeat the process!
You should now have a pile of lettuce seeds. Take a moment to be impressed that each one of those seeds will make an entire plant and hundreds more seeds.
Now then, you first need to dry out your seeds. They need to be free of moisture or they could easily rot, mold or even sprout.
Once they are dry you need to store the seeds in a dry clean container. For now, mine is simply a press-close plastic baggie that is kept in a cardboard box in my closet. Pretty fancy, right?
Rather than tell you the “right” way to store seeds, I would rather tell you what to avoid:
If you avoid those things, you should be okay. Check in on them time from time if you have never stored seed to make sure they did not start to rot or mold.
We are growing and collecting our seeds for two reasons:
- To grow plants year after year that are more adapted to our area
- To be able to have a perpetual ability to provide for our own food
You can do the same, and you can do it easily. Our lettuce was grown in our Back to Eden Garden without any store bought fertilizers or pesticides.
Today we collected only a half dozen seed heads, and have dozens of seeds… and there are easily three or four dozen seed heads on each plant, and several plants to go through.
We are giving away packets of our very own organically grown heirloom Simpson Black Seeded Lettuce seed! 10 winners will be selected! Be sure to get as many entries as you can. Each person can win only 1 time. Each packet will have about 25 seeds. The seeds are currently drying and winners will be notified about when they can expect shipment after the giveaway is complete. Be sure we have a way to reach you, or we will not be able to contact you privately for your shipping address!