Earlier in the year, I wrote about how we evaluate Tomato varieties with easy trials.
Our lettuce trials are even simpler!
I wanted small dense lettuce heads that didn’t take too much space in the garden but gave fantastic salads!
That doesn’t seem like too much to ask for.
We went through seed catalogs carefully reading the descriptions and put together a list of candidates and ordered some seeds.
We then planted 2 rows x 3 feet of each variety. The rows were on 9″ spacing.
That gave 8 heads per variety.
Of course, each variety was clearly labeled!
Evaluate In The Field
When the heads had formed, the Tourne-Sol seed team put on our evaluation hats.
To start off everyone was given some time to walk the block and choose their 3 favourite heads in the field. This was done simply based on looks.
We then gathered together and shared our 3 favourites with each other.
We discussed why and how we had made our choices. This helped us understand how each person was making decisions and got us in the mood to look at lettuce!
Now that we had oriented ourselves, we walked through the field together and discussed each variety one by one – highlighting what we loved and what we hated; what we though would be a great market stall lettuce; what would filled a missing niche in our current offering; what we just wanted to bite into then and there …
We harvested whole heads from each variety and headed back to the barn.
Evaluate The Insides
Back at the barn, we took apart the heads and looked at the inner leaves.
Doesn’t this look nice and buttery?
Evaluate How They Taste
We then tasted a lot of lettuce.
Cleansing our palates between varieties with the water.
We separated the heads into what we agreed we liked and what we didn’t.
The Final Verdict
Once we’ve gone through all these steps, we know what we like.
We always wind up with a few broken hearts. Something looked amazing in the field but in the end it tastes like cardboard.
Taste is a deal breaker.
And sometimes, something really ordinary looking tastes delicious and we’ll go back to the field to give it another look.
In the end, each lettuce is destined for one of the following fates
- Never grown or discussed again
- Put in another trial
- Grown as part of an actual lettuce planting
What an exciting adventure!
What are you trialling this summer?