Marvel of Four Seasons is a butter-head lettuce that is a true delight. As tasty as it is beautiful, and it is a truly beautiful lettuce. Also known as Merveille des Quatre Saisons this French butter-head lettuce is famous for its signature butter-head shape boasting the appearance of a bibb-type rosette with an array of beautiful colours ranging in bronze, gold, red and green. Revealing ruby toned leaves that encompass tightly folded green hearts. With its ability to be harvested in extended seasons the “four seasons” will thrive in a range of climates. This vigorous plant is very easy to grow and matures in 60 days. Its dark colour develops on cooler spring or autumn weather, but its texture always remains crisp and its taste unforgettable. This pre-1885 French heirloom has been lovingly cultivated in kitchen gardens for centuries. It was featured in Vilmorin’s 1885 book The Vegetable Garden, where it was listed as the most “highly coloured of all the Lettuces grown about Paris.” It has also been found carrying the names of 'Little Red Riding Hood' and 'Besson Rouge",
Prepare the site: Lettuces are easy to grow in the smallest of gardens or even in pots on a balcony or patio. Marvel of Four Seasons is slow to run to seed and there is a long window of opportunity for harvesting. For the best lettuce experience, pick early in the morning and refrigerate for eating the same day. This gives the maximum amount of flavour, freshness and nutrients. Lettuce doesn't do well in very acidic soils, and some say the pH shouldn't be lower than 6.5. A rich soil is excellent for lettuce, but the crop will also do well in average garden soil. The best crops are grown in soil that is deeply enriched with well-rotted manure and is well-fertilized before planting, especially with high nitrogen--leaf-stimulating--fertilizers such as 10-8-4, cottonseed meal, or blood meal.
Timing: Under protection: February to March (Plant outside in April) Directly outdoors: March to August. They can also be sown in autumn to overwinter if protected. The perfect temperature for germination is 4 to 16°C (40 to 60°F) rates decline above 20°C (68°F). The perfect temperature for growth is 16 to 18°C (60 to 65°F) For the best crops, sow in succession from spring to mid-summer. The butterhead lettuces will be ready to crop around 72 days after sowing. They are more dry tolerant than most salad leaf vegetables. Sow in early autumn for overwintering.
Sowing: Sow at a seed depth of 6 to 12mm (¼ to ½in) Seed will germinate in 7 to 14 days. Sow seeds in short rows about 30cm (12in) apart. To do this, make a shallow trench with a cane about 15mm (¾ in) deep. Space the rows 20cm (8in) apart. Tip a small amount of seed into your hand, take a pinch and spread thinly along the trench. Cover with soil, label and water. If birds are a problem in your garden, spread netting to prevent them eating the seed. When the seedlings are about 2cm (1in) tall, thin them out to give them space to grow, 15 to 20cm (6 to 8in). Make successional sowings at 14 day intervals. On a hot day, water the soil thoroughly before sowing. Try, if possible, to sow during the early afternoon.
Cultivation: A mulch of grass clippings, salt hay, clean straw, or the like, will keep the weeds out and the growing soil moist and cool. Watering is essential if rainfall is scant. The plants need almost constantly moist ground. This is particularly important when the lettuces are one or two weeks away from harvesting, as dry soil now will cause the plants to put their energy into producing flowers. The key to tender and tasty lettuce is rapid growth, however lettuce has a relatively shallow and compact root system that doesn't absorb nutrients and moisture from the soil very efficiently, which can slow the growth. To encourage fast growth, add plenty of finished compost before planting and again as a side-dressing a week or so after seedlings appear or transplants are planted. Give supplemental feedings of compost tea every few weeks until harvest.
Pests: Aphids – Wash off minor infestations before the plants are eaten. If there is a heavy population grow nasturtiums near the lettuce, or use an organic solution.
Harvesting: Harvest April to October - 60 days to maturity When the head of the lettuce is firm when gently pressed it is ready to harvest.The harvest is over when a central stem starts to form. This is the signal that the plant is getting ready to bolt and the leaves will be bitter. The buttherhead's are not a regimented, orderly lettuce: each will have its own unique appearance and character.
Rotation considerations: Avoid following radicchio, endive, escarole or artichoke.
Good Companions: All brassicas (except broccoli, but especially radishes), beat, carrot, cucumber, onion family, pole lima bean, strawberry
Bad Companions: None
History: The French company Vilmorin-Andrieux & Cie arose in the 18th century from the collaboration of Philippe Victoire de Vilmorin, a grain and plant merchant and connoisseur and his father-in-law, Pierre Andrieux, Botanist to the King. The Vilmorins, though only producers and merchants on the Paris market, contributed enormously to the botanical and agronomic knowledge of their time. Their first catalogue, comprising all kinds of seeds for kitchen-garden vegetables, including legumes, salad plants, flower seeds and bulbs appeared in 1766. It was followed by a series of Publications périodiques in which the quality of botanical and horticultural information was equalled only by the illustrations. By the mid-19th century, the firm had become the most important seed company in the world—active in production, trade, and scientific advances, thanks largely to Louis de Vilmorin's crucial research into selection and heredity in the 1850s.
|Packet Size||2.5 grams|
|Average Seed Count||2,300 Seeds|
|Species||sativa var capitata|
|Cultivar||Marvel of Four Seasons|
|Synonym||Merveille des Quatre Saisons, Marvel of the Four Seasons|
|Common Name|| 'Merveille des Quatre Saisons' Butterhead Lettuce.
Heritage variety (French 1885)
|Other Common Names||Wonder of Four Seasons|
|Natural Flower Time||No|
|Time to Harvest||All year round (with cloche/coldframe in winter)|
|Soil||The crop will do well in average garden soil. Ideally aim for a pH of less than 6.5|
|Harvest||Harvest April to October - 72 days to maturity|
|Time to Sow||Under protection: Sept to March (Plant out April) Outside: Mar to Aug|