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Very crisp large heads. Well known and reliable variety. Slow to bolt even in hot summers.
Lettuce is one of the simpler vegetables to grow. It is a great choice for beginner gardeners. With so much variety in taste and style, there is sure to be one type that even the fussiest salad eater will like. Because of lettuce's short growing season, successive plantings can be made so you can have lettuce all season long.
Leaf lettuce is the most popular to plant. It has usually green or reddish leaves and can be harvested slowly, cutting of as many leaves as needed without disrupting the entire plant. Leaf lettuce is the easiest variety to grow.
Round, or Butterhead, lettuce features a loose head with dark green, tender, soft, leaves. Bibb and Boston are types of Butterhead. They are called Butterheads because of their light yellowish, butter-esque, appearance.
Cos, or Romaine, lettuce grows in a dense, upright, oval-shaped head. It has wavy green, tightly packed, crisp leaves.
Crisphead, or Iceberg, lettuce has light green leaves tightly compacted around the head. It has a mild, crisp, flavor. This is the only variety that shouldn't be planted from seed. Instead it is best purchased from a reputable garden center as it needs a headstart and long-lasting cool season to mature properly. This is the most difficult lettuce to grow. Webb's Wonderful is a butterhead type, one of the most popular variety in the UK, often sown togeteher with lettuce freckles, the two varieties complimant each other well, and you can have a good round head of lettuce almost all the year around.
Lettuce is a cool-weather plant, which means it can be planted in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked. It doesn't transplant well at all. It can also be planted in late summer for a fall crop.
Sprinkle seeds evenly over ground, 10-20 seeds per foot and in rows that are 8-12” apart. The seeds are tiny, which usually means a thicker sowing with the intention to thin them out after the seeds have sprouted. Cover them lightly with 1/4”-1/2” of soil. Water them very lightly and keep the soil moist until they germinate. When the seedlings get to about 2” tall, thin them out if necessary, to 4-8 inches apart, depending on their variety and what the seed packet recommends.
Lettuce seeds will not germinate in temperatures above 35C. The ideal growing temperature is between 15 C – 21 C. If the weather gets too hot for the tender plants, the leaves will get bitter and seedstalks will form, elongating the plant yet stunting the growth of it's leaves. There are types and varieties developed for heat tolerance and slow-bolting. Look for these if temperature may be an issue in your area.
To have a continuous supply of lettuce, sow two or more plantings at 10-14 day intervals. Hot summer days are not good for lettuce plants so the last spring sowing needs to be done at least a month before the real heat starts. Late summer plantings come to maturity in the cool autumn weather.
Soil & Watering
Lettuce likes well-drained, rich, soil. Light, frequent, watering is preferred for lettuce plants. Irrigation systems work best. Over-watering can lead to root and leaf diseases, so don't overdo it.
When weeding around lettuce plants, be extra careful, especially when they are young. Their root systems are very shallow and they can easily be yanked up by mistake. Weeds are heavy competitors to the little seedlings and need to be kept under control so they don't steal all the seedlings resources.
Each variety of lettuce comes to maturity in a different way. Leaf lettuce can be cut and used when the leaves are 5-6 inches tall. Take the outer leaves first, carefully breaking them off or using scissors to snip them individually. Cos lettuce can be harvested when the leaves are long and overlapping at the top to form a tight head. They are usually about 6-8 inches tall. Round lettuce is ready when a loose head forms with the leaves cupping inwards. Crisphead is mature when the leaves are tight and form a round, dense head.
If seedstalks appear in the center of your plants, harvest them immediately as they will quickly go bitter and inedible, if they haven't already. Taste a bit first to see if it's still ok.
Lettuce does not store extremely well. Crisphead stores up to two weeks in the refrigerator. After harvesting, the leaves of the Round and Leaf varieties should be washed and dried completely, then stored in a bag in the refrigerator. This method can keep these lettuces for up to four weeks.
Do not store lettuce with bananas, pears, or apples. These particular fruits produce a natural ripening agent that will make the lettuce deteriorate with brown spots.