The Romaine Lettuce, Cimmaron
I have to confess to extreme bias with this SEED OF THE DAY review because I LOVE this lettuce. I think of it as the perfect lettuce. Cimmaron, AKA Little Leprechaun, Rouge d’Hiver, Red Winter and Deep Red, has been grown in American gardens since the 1840s. Romaine lettuce is so named because it was a favorite of the Romans who found the lettuce on the Greek island of Cos. This lettuce produces a beautiful burgundy or bronze colored leaf with bright pink veins. I think it should be picked young when its color is the most vibrant. It is incredibly cold hardy and yet it is also very heat tolerant. It will be the last lettuce in your garden to bolt in the summer and one of the first to produce in the spring. Because of the color and the shape of the leaves, it is very ornamental and does well when planted in pots or as a border plant. Cimmaron is truly an oldie, but goodie!
Note: I love this lettuce. It makes a frequent appearance in my garden and my salad bowl. It is probably my favorite of the romaine type lettuces, followed by its close second in my book – Bloody Warrior (I’ll tell you about Bloody Warrior in another post). I first encountered this lettuce here in Alaska, in my garden, quite by accident. Earlier in the year I ordered a special blend of lettuce seed from (another) seed company. Seeing that the single packet price was $3, but that I could get a 1/4 pound bag for $14, I ordered the big bag. Those of you more familiar with lettuce seed than I was at the time are probably already laughing. But, a few days later the seed company called and said that the lettuce seed I had ordered was no longer available. Then came the line that should have told me something was wrong with the amount I had ordered. “But, since you’re the first farmer in Alaska to order from us this year, could we send you a different, even more cold-hardy bag to test for us? It’s all red-lettuce types, and should be great for your location. Just grow it, journal it, and send us your notes and we’ll send it for free.” Never able to resist a free bag of seeds, I said yes.
When they arrived, I realized that there were enough seeds in the packet to seed a three acre plot. So, I gave it to everyone I knew. I walked around town dropping seeds into planters in the park. I kept it cold and grew from it year after year. In fact, I still do. And in that mix of delightful seeds is the aforementioned Cimmaron. And Bloody Warrior. And Lolla Rossa. And Mascara. And…well, way too many to list. It makes a wonderful leaf lettuce mix when harvested young, but I always like to let a few of the Cimmaron lettuces reach maturity for a truly beautiful read leafed salad. I strongly encourage you to order some today.
Just, perhaps, not 1/4 pound of it.
- My Favorite Seed Catalogs (alaskakitchenandgarden.wordpress.com)
- Create your own lettuce/mesclun bowl! (giantveggiegardener.com)