Gotta give you three great lettuces that I’m loving, and you’re going to love that there’s still time to plant all of them for both late summer and fall production.
First is Italienischer, which, as I understand it, is the English-pronounced German word for an Italian. That alone makes it intriguing, but its performance in the garden makes it memorable. Here’s how the Territorial Seed Company catalog describes it:
55 days. Once you grow this variety, you’ll know why many people describe Italienischer as a truly magnificent lettuce. Tall, upright, and sturdy 18 inch bright green plants are huge, providing more sustenance per plant than any other variety we know of. Even at its most mature size, this lettuce is sweet and crisp when others have become bitter in summer’s heat. Sow spring to fall, and space them farther apart than you normally do. http://www.territorialseed.com/product/Italienischer_Organic_Lettuce_Seed
I say yes to all of it, except the spacing. “Plant ’em close and take some young,” is my motto, and that strategy will achieve some large lettuces in the end, just as if you had planted them far apart. Territorial doesn’t seem to want to categorize this lettuce, but I think of it as a Romaine. It has a thick, crunchy midrib and a good textured leaf. Plus you can halve it and grill it (from my prior post you may discern that I like to grill greens) just as you would a Romaine.
I love its soldierly stance, stout and proud, and it flashes its bayonet-shaped leaves very nobly as well.
|‘Ten-hut! Italienischer on duty!
Next is a very different creature called Mazurosso. Where Italienischer is an easy character to read, straightforwardly upright and a true-green kind of guy, Mazurosso is complicated, convoluted, and more intriguing, at least to the eye.
|Mazurosso…the Impressionists’ choice in lettuce.
As can be seen from this photo, it’s hard to tell where one head begins and the other ends. I love its outrageously-lobed leaves. They could easily pass for alien hands. Here’s a side-by-side of Italienischer and Mazurosso. You decide which you prefer:
Territorial says this about Mazurossa: 60 days. A showy, oak-leaf shaped lettuce with distinctly different, serrated edges, vibrant cinnamon/maroon coloring and an emerald green heart. When many other varieties are succumbing to bitterness, Mazurosso outsmarts them all and stays sweet on the palate. Its mature size is 8 inches tall with a spread of 12 inches. Packed with richly textured leaves, it’s an excellent plant for providing repeated harvest of the outer leaves while its central point continues to grow, producing more fresh greens for later pickings. With successive plantings 3-4 weeks apart, you’ll be able to harvest entire plants that are about 5 inches wide and 3 inches tall, just right for a family-size salad. Resistant to downy mildew, tipburn, and slow to bolt.
I don’t know how a lettuce can be said to “outsmart” other lettuce varieties, but I guess those seed people love their crops so much that a few anthropomorphisms can be forgiven.
Finally, I give you Rouxai. I got the seed from Johnny’s (http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-8834-rouxai.aspx
), but they obviously don’t have as many poets working in their seed department as Territorial. Their prosaic description fails to capture the “wow” of this lettuce. Much better is the Osborne Seed Company’s description – A stunning “quattro red” oak/butter cross that has lobed, ruffled leaves packed tight on a medium small head. Stunning is the right adjective, and by calling it a Quattro red lettuce, it makes it sound like some kind of cherry Maserati. Well, it absolutely took my breath away this morning in the garden, with the sun’s early light streaming through its leaves, and even if it tasted like doggy-doo I’d still plant it just for the visual effect.
So order ’em up, plant ’em up, and enjoy some stunning forms and colors in the garden bed and on the plate!