Freckles is a Great Winter Lettuce

By Published On: January 16th, 20242.6 min readCategories: Garden

Freckles is a Romaine-type lettuce with medium green leave and attractive red splotches. Great for winter growing in Zones 8 and up

A closeup photo of Freckles romaine lettuce

Freckles lettuce thriving in mid-January

Winter has been unusually cold unusually early for us this year. Since 2015 the average overnight low temperature in the first half of January has been 42.3° F. But this year, for whatever reason, the average low has been 35.2° F, with many nights dipping into the high 20’s, including one that dropped to 26.4°.

A plant with frost burned leaves

Piper Auritum (rootbeer plant) with bad frostbite

Now, this might not seem like much to those of you living in places where freezing weather is common, but here in USDA zone 9, it’s brutal. Subtropicals like rootbeer plant, peppers, and guava are all brown and shriveled from the freeze.

And real tropicals like the bananas and ginger are piles of fleshy goo, frozen back to the ground. My best hope for them is to layer on several inches of leaf mulch and hope the roots survive until spring.

Fortunately, the plants in the keyhole garden up near the house seems unfazed. The Valentine tomatoes and bell peppers look a little beaten, but nowhere near to the extent the plants in the vegetable garden, which is downslope, are. And the lettuce I transplanted just after Thanksgiving, doesn’t even seem to notice the nights are hostile to other vegetation.

In fact, as you can see from the photos below, it seems to be thriving.

This variety is a Romaine / Cos lettuce called Freckles, and it’s grown by leaps and bounds in the cold and damp of the past four weeks. By comparison, the broccoli and cilantro planted at the same time look like they’re standing still.

The leaves on Freckles are kind of meaty and have a little bit of fuzz, which is what may be helping to insulate them during the nightly freezes since I don’t bother to cover them. But, regardless of the reason, I’m glad they’re all doing so well.

Right now, the plants aren’t dense enough to pick whole, so we’re picking the outer leaves to use as loose-leaf lettuce. Once they fill out a bit and become denser, we’ll be having some crunchy Caesar salads.

Loose or head, they’ll be providing us with fresh, leafy greens for a least the next several weeks. It’s nice to have fresh veggies even in the dead of winter.

If you’re looking for a lettuce that will get through the winter with a minimum of cover, I definitely recommend this one.

About Freckles Lettuce

Plant Details
Variety: Romaine / Cos
Color: medium green with red splotches
Flavor: Grassy sweet
Texture: Thick, slightly chewy, tears easily
Growth Habit: Upright, medium-sized heads
Soil Preference: Moist, well-drained, 40 to 60 degrees.
Sun: Full sun or partial shade
Days to Maturity: 50-70 days
Hardiness Zone: 3-12 (USDA)
Planting Depth: 1/2 inches
Plant Spacing: 6 inches
Row Spacing: 12 inches
Available from: Click for seed sources

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About the Author

author avatar
Sage Osterfeld
I’m just a guy with nearly an acre of dirt, a nice little mid-century ranch house and a near-perfect climate. But in my mind I’m a landscaper survivalist craftsman chef naturalist with a barbeque the size of a VW and my own cable TV show. I like to write about the stuff I build, grow and see here at Sage's Acre.

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