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Grand Rapids Lettuce

Botanical Name: Lactuca sativa

$3.95
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# of seeds per packet: 460

Description

28 days baby, 50 days mature. In our never-ending pursuit to recover the long-lost history of agriculture in the Great Lakes region, we fortunately stumbled upon “Grand Rapids” lettuce, which tells a story of the region that began over 100 years ago. Bred in the late 1800’s by Eugene Davis, known as the "father of forced lettuce,” Grand Rapids lettuce became the leading greenhouse-grown winter lettuce in the Grand Rapids, MI area. By the turn of the 20th century, these remarkably expansive greenhouses (over 150,000 square feet of them) were supplying millions of pounds of winter lettuce to the people of the Great Lakes region. Grand Rapids lettuce is bright green, with wavy, frilled leaves. If left to mature it forms a head of loose leaves that reach 7 - 8” tall. It is very vigorous and bolt tolerant. We have been growing it as cut-and-come-again baby greens in our unheated hoophouse where, when sown by September 1st, it provides non-bitter lettuce through fall, winter and all the way until the end of April! We have never seen a lettuce that does not turn bitter after 7 months! In our trials it has outperformed many other lettuces in the hoophouse due to its combination of cold hardiness and moderate resistance to downy mildew (it doesn’t need extra covering inside the hoophouse unless temps go below zero). By growing it year-after-year and saving seeds from the strongest surviving plants, we are continuing to select it for southeast Michigan hoophouse growing conditions. We are so excited to be bringing this variety back to Michigan and share it with you! Seeds grown by Nature and Nurture.

Growing

Growing Instructions (for USDA zone 5b):

Lettuce prefers cooler weather and will bolt (flower) earlier in hot weather. Sow lettuce seeds outside anytime between March 27th – June 30th. Lettuce seeds germinate when the soil temperature ranges from 35-80° (68° optimum). Lettuce seeds need light to germinate - plant seeds on the surface of the soil and pat gently with a hand. Keep seeds constantly moist until germination (laying row cover fabric on top of the seeds will help keep them cool and moist). Days to germination: 2-14 days. For early head lettuce, start seeds indoors March 1st at 68° (cover flat with a dome and expose seeds to light). Grand Rapids makes great fall/winter lettuce. Sow it around Aug. 15th during a cool spell (lettuce seeds will not germinate if soil temperatures are over 80°) - try covering seeds with row cover fabric to keep them cool and moist. Space 8” apart for head lettuce. Broadcast sow seeds for baby leaf lettuce.

Harvest:

Baby Leaves: for cut-and-come-again, when leaves are 2-4” tall, cut entire plant with scissors 1-2" above the soil so you don’t damage the growing crown. Return for several harvests. Heads: Grand Rapids will make a loose head, harvest at full size before it begins to bolt.

Seed Saving Instructions (for gardeners):

Lettuce is mostly self-pollinated and rarely crosses with other lettuces. Isolation distance: 12’. Minimum population size: 5-10 plants. Remove early bolting plants. If lettuce stems fall over, stake them. Harvest lettuce seeds as they begin to mature (they will form dandelion like white plumes on them). Harvest seeds by tapping stems to shake seeds into a bucket. It is best to harvest lettuce seed after several days of dry weather. Harvest seeds over several weeks.

Seed Stories

Originating in the Mediterranean region, lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is grown in temperate regions around the world. Lettuce’s disdain for hot weather can be traced to its Mediterranean roots where mild weather predominates. Lettuces are important crops ‘round the world!

Grand Rapids lettuce was bred in the late 1800s by Eugene Davis, a winter lettuce grower and breeder of Grand Rapids, Michigan. By the turn of the 20th century, expansive (150,000 square feet!) greenhouses were supplying millions of pounds of fresh lettuce to the people of the Great Lakes region during the winter. Grand Rapids Lettuce became the leading greenhouse-grown winter lettuce during this time and we are glad that it is still with us! With the current industrialized food system, supermarket lettuce is grown in Mexico and California – let’s bring it on back to Michigan!

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Grand Rapids Lettuce [[start tab]]

Description

28 days baby, 50 days mature. In our never-ending pursuit to recover the long-lost history of agriculture in the Great Lakes region, we fortunately stumbled upon “Grand Rapids” lettuce, which tells a story of the region that began over 100 years ago. Bred in the late 1800’s by Eugene Davis, known as the "father of forced lettuce,” Grand Rapids lettuce became the leading greenhouse-grown winter lettuce in the Grand Rapids, MI area. By the turn of the 20th century, these remarkably expansive greenhouses (over 150,000 square feet of them) were supplying millions of pounds of winter lettuce to the people of the Great Lakes region. Grand Rapids lettuce is bright green, with wavy, frilled leaves. If left to mature it forms a head of loose leaves that reach 7 - 8” tall. It is very vigorous and bolt tolerant. We have been growing it as cut-and-come-again baby greens in our unheated hoophouse where, when sown by September 1st, it provides non-bitter lettuce through fall, winter and all the way until the end of April! We have never seen a lettuce that does not turn bitter after 7 months! In our trials it has outperformed many other lettuces in the hoophouse due to its combination of cold hardiness and moderate resistance to downy mildew (it doesn’t need extra covering inside the hoophouse unless temps go below zero). By growing it year-after-year and saving seeds from the strongest surviving plants, we are continuing to select it for southeast Michigan hoophouse growing conditions. We are so excited to be bringing this variety back to Michigan and share it with you! Seeds grown by Nature and Nurture.

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Growing

Growing Instructions (for USDA zone 5b):

Lettuce prefers cooler weather and will bolt (flower) earlier in hot weather. Sow lettuce seeds outside anytime between March 27th – June 30th. Lettuce seeds germinate when the soil temperature ranges from 35-80° (68° optimum). Lettuce seeds need light to germinate - plant seeds on the surface of the soil and pat gently with a hand. Keep seeds constantly moist until germination (laying row cover fabric on top of the seeds will help keep them cool and moist). Days to germination: 2-14 days. For early head lettuce, start seeds indoors March 1st at 68° (cover flat with a dome and expose seeds to light). Grand Rapids makes great fall/winter lettuce. Sow it around Aug. 15th during a cool spell (lettuce seeds will not germinate if soil temperatures are over 80°) - try covering seeds with row cover fabric to keep them cool and moist. Space 8” apart for head lettuce. Broadcast sow seeds for baby leaf lettuce.

Harvest:

Baby Leaves: for cut-and-come-again, when leaves are 2-4” tall, cut entire plant with scissors 1-2" above the soil so you don’t damage the growing crown. Return for several harvests. Heads: Grand Rapids will make a loose head, harvest at full size before it begins to bolt.

Seed Saving Instructions (for gardeners):

Lettuce is mostly self-pollinated and rarely crosses with other lettuces. Isolation distance: 12’. Minimum population size: 5-10 plants. Remove early bolting plants. If lettuce stems fall over, stake them. Harvest lettuce seeds as they begin to mature (they will form dandelion like white plumes on them). Harvest seeds by tapping stems to shake seeds into a bucket. It is best to harvest lettuce seed after several days of dry weather. Harvest seeds over several weeks.

[[end tab]] [[start tab]]

Seed Stories

Originating in the Mediterranean region, lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is grown in temperate regions around the world. Lettuce’s disdain for hot weather can be traced to its Mediterranean roots where mild weather predominates. Lettuces are important crops ‘round the world!

Grand Rapids lettuce was bred in the late 1800s by Eugene Davis, a winter lettuce grower and breeder of Grand Rapids, Michigan. By the turn of the 20th century, expansive (150,000 square feet!) greenhouses were supplying millions of pounds of fresh lettuce to the people of the Great Lakes region during the winter. Grand Rapids Lettuce became the leading greenhouse-grown winter lettuce during this time and we are glad that it is still with us! With the current industrialized food system, supermarket lettuce is grown in Mexico and California – let’s bring it on back to Michigan!

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