Monday, 16 August 2010
Each spring I am the grateful recipient of a box of seed samples from the Dutch vegetable seed company Rijk Zwaan. This is a major breeder and producer of vegetable seeds, with a strong international presence, but as with so many companies its name seldom appears on the produce we buy.
As a major commercial entity, the Salanova lettuce has a website of its own, and is the subject of a major promotional campaign - under the unfortunate slogan 'Taste the nova way of living'.
The easy preparation is indeed convenient - and the lettuces are nicely tasty - but I like them for their ornamentality. We grow them in containers outside the cottage door (top picture, red and green multi-leaf butterhead), enjoying their appearance before thinning them out for a salad, and in the vegetable garden they are also very decorative (above, red and green incised-leaf grown in a shallow crate). I think the green multi-leaf butterhead (below) is my favourite, not only for its culinary qualities, but for the tight, beautifully arranged head of leaves in growth, giving a suggestion of the 'quartered' shape of an old-fashioned rose, which increases as the head matures. Cultivation is as easy as for any other lettuce and I find that if a late sowing is grown in crates in the polytunnel they can be picked late into November.