Sometimes things are not what they seem.
This, for example, is supposed to be a summer lettuce. It is crisp, upright and elegant: a red Cos variety which is about as handsome as a lettuce gets.
I sowed a big tray of it for a photoshoot I was doing earlier this year so had quite a lot to spare. I decided therefore to stuff the remaining young plants into any corner of the veg beds I could find. Never could bear to throw away a good plant.
Well. That was July. And here we are, mid-November, and I’ve been picking one or two a week ever since.
They are as crisp, densely-hearted and handsome as ever, with a lovely smooth, sweet flavour and none of the bitterness you so often find in lesser lettuces (particularly in my garden, where watering is reserved for the greenhouse and pots only).
Even better: like many red lettuces, the slugs really don’t like them much. There’s the odd experimental munch from an outside leaf or two, but not a single slimy surprise inside. So lovely just to be able to quarter a lettuce picked from outdoors without having to dissect it leaf by leaf to check for unwanted passengers.
And as if all that wasn’t enough to recommend it, after over three months in the ground those still uneaten are showing only the first tiny twinges of bolting. It’s no more than a slight protrusion of the (still full, firm and sweet) heart above the outside leaves though: they don’t really mean it. If things carry on like this I’ll still be happily cutting Intreds on Christmas Day.
So this is the summer lettuce that’s actually a winter lettuce. It’s also now firmly on my list of must-grows, alongside the Merveille de Quatr’ Saisons and the Black-Seeded Simpson. So lovely when you find a new favourite.