Earlier I wrote about Seed starting Lettuce with many pictures of various steps involved. I couldn’t blog about the results actually. Anyway, it took almost 2 weeks for 50% of the lettuce to show up and the rest of the 50% never really showed up. I was really disappointed. I started questioning the way I started those seeds and did some tests by starting them in different ways. 1. Tried soaking them in water for few hours, a day. 2. Put them in moist tissue paper towel to see if i have luck there.. still the attempts were futile. The seeds were supposed to be “imported” and it didn’t expire either. So what went wrong?. While I was thinking just that, one of my friend gave me some seeds from France. I immediately sowed them the same way I mentioned in my post. This time my expectation was low. After just 1.5 days I saw one of the seeds throwing out white small roots.. Wow. this is like Magic. The seeds were fresh and they germinated in no time. Many sources in the internet mention that the age of Lettuce seed is 2 years.
In those 50% seeds that germinated in my first batch, I let a few of them to flower. Lettuces were not very happy with Bangalore’s weather(they need much cooler temperatures around 20 C) and it was much hotter.They were happy to flower. When a plant is stressed, it starts to flower. It is very interesting actually. Plant thinks that it cannot live longer in that environment and prepares to continue its generation by flowering and seeding much quicker. Lettuce is no different in hot climates. It bolts quickly. Here in this post I will mention about saving lettuce seeds. Though it is advised not to save seeds from plants that flower prematurely.Vigorous plants should be selected and allowed to flower. The process of seed saving remains the same.
Find a lettuce plant that is strong and vigorous and let it flower. In my case, the plant volunteered.
The young flower that has just bloomed looked yellow in color for the variety I had. Once the flower matures, the seeds are formed. The seeds have a parachute like wing that helps it to fly. You can see that in the pic below.
You can wait for the time where most of the flowers are burst open like the one above but not fallen off the plant, and then take the whole stalk of flower and collect individual flowers and separate the seeds out of them.
I just collect few mature dry seeds from the plant daily as i water and keep adding to my seed packet. The above pic is dried seeds with their wings. I just gently rub them in palm and they become what looks like “Lettuce seeds!”
And guess what, they germinated in two days!. Below is randomly sown lettuce seeds peeping in just two days!.
Another reason why you should save your own seeds!.