A Tale of Two Lettuces
One lettuce, actually, the delicious heirloom butterhead ’Merveille des Quatre Saisons’.
Where winter temperatures drop into the teens and below, it’s only merveille in 3 saisons, but that’s still pretty good. It’s one of the first to head up after a spring planting. It stays nicely flavorful in summer, even after it starts to bolt, and it’s really stellar in fall: tender, juicy, sweet, beautiful – and disinclined to rot, even when the autumn is unusually rainy.
Merveille, also sold as ‘Continuity,’ isn’t as hardy as Winter Density or Brune d’Hiver, but the dense heads can take temperatures down to about 25 degrees if the cold has come on slowly.
And, of course, if heads are what you have. The lettuce itself is very obliging but it does need room to grow. The end of the row escaped thinning somehow, with predictable results:
Those frills are tasty enough in their way, but they’re so different from the blanched center of the fully formed head they might as well be a different lettuce entirely.
Photo note: For reasons unknown to me, most seed catalog photographs show a heavily ruffled rosette, the head barely formed or completely invisible, making the thing look like a leaf lettuce. It’s not. The head in my picture may be about to bust but at least it clearly shows you the possibilities.