My Favorite Lettuce Mix

Earlier this week when I decried the sorry state of our winter vegetable garden, I neglected to mention the one big success: lettuce.

We grow lettuce mixes almost every year and we’ve never been disappointed. Homegrown salad greens are much better than store bought. Plus, at least where we live, they are easy to grow. We just sow the seed directly and water them in. We thin by eating the seedlings. Judging from the crowding in the photo above, we need to eat some more salads soon. There’s never been pest problems save for the edible, and aggressive, fennel seedlings you can see amongst the lettuce (memo to self: cut down fennel before it goes to seed this year!).

And, at the risk of repeating myself, I pretty much grow Franchi seeds exclusively. It’s a family run Italian company that dates back to 1783. This year I grew their “Misticanza All Lettuce” mesclun mix. It’s astonishingly beautiful and flavorful. Best damn salads I’ve ever had.

Last year I grew their Misticanza da indive, described in the Seeds from Italy catalog as a mixture of ten or more endives and escaroles. It is also well worth growing. Franchi has several other mesclun mixes that I’m looking forward to trying.

Unlike other seed companies you get a lot of seeds on one package–enough to plant a farm. I’ve had good luck with germination, as well.

In the US, Franchi seeds are available through Seeds From Italy at www.growitalian.com.

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7 Comments

  1. Our lettuce has also been a raging success this year. The only thing that sometimes makes me sad is that from June -October, it’s too hot to grow it here, and summer months are when a cool salad would be most welcomed!

    • I know what you mean! I don’t crave salad in the winter. I want stew. In the summer I want salad, and there’s none to be had.

  2. Hi Mrs. H,

    I bought some of this mix on your recommendation. Do you thin it, or just let it all grow together? And do you broadcast seeds, or put them in a row? (I can’t read the Italian on the back of the package!)

    Thank you,
    Kyle

    • Hi Kyle,

      Sorry it took a while to get back to you. We’ve been having server problems.

      You broadcast it, and then thin it when it’s baby lettuce size so you can eat baby lettuce salads. Leave some plants to get big, about as far apart as they can be and still barely touch each other’s leaves. That way they’ll shade the soil for each other, retaining moisture. Then you harvest individual leaves off those big plants a few at a time to make your salads, leaving the whole plant in place to regenerate leaves for your next salad.

  3. Great – thank you so much! They are starting to sprout, and am really excited.

    BTW: How far apart do you plant your chard? (I bought some of the Italian chard too!). And I’ve noticed that each seed sends up many sprouts. Do you thin those to a single plant?

    Thanks so much,
    Kyle

    • Hey Kyle–I plant my chard 8 inches apart–a spacing I took from John Jeavons’ biointensive methods. Each seed will send up only one sprout.

  4. Hey Mr. H,

    Thank you. For some reason, each seed seems to send out a clump of shoots, like beets do. So do I guess I will thin to a single shoot once they get a little bigger.

    Thanks for turning us on to the Italian seed company!

    Kyle

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