tropicana lettuce

Care and Planting Instructions

Most lettuces tolerate some cold. Plant outside in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked. Successive planting will ensure a longer harvest time as lettuce does not store for long periods of time once harvested.

Lettuce does not do well in soil that is acidic. Some experts recommend a pH that is higher than 6.5. If your soil is too acidic, adding lime will help neutralize the soil. Most varieties have a tendency to be heavy feeders, so consider working compost into the soil before planting.

Lettuce needs water when the leaves begin to droop. To minimize disease, regular, even watering early in the morning is best. Lack of water can cause reduced head size, may force the plant to bolt prematurely, and increase bitterness in the leaves. As lettuce roots are generally shallow, adding mulch around plants will help keep the roots cool, moisture in the soil, and keeps weeds under control.

For optimal results, harvest lettuce early in the morning. Wash thoroughly, spin or pat dry, and refrigerate immediately.

Butter head lettuce – when the head feels firm, cut it off at the soil surface with a sharp knife.

Romaine lettuce – upright growth habit, 8″-9″ high. You can begin harvesting outer leaves when the center leaves are 4″ high. Or harvest entire plant after maturity date, by cutting stem at the soil line with a sharp knife.

Lettuce lactuca sativa

Coastal Star Romaine Lettuce
Large dark green heads. Heat
tolerant. Good, sweet flavor.
Harvest 57 days.
lactuca sativa
Freckles Romaine Lettuce
Large dark green heads. Heat
tolerant. Good, sweet flavor.
Harvest 28 days baby, 55 full size.
Iceberg (Crispino) Lettuce
Medium-sized, glossy green, firm heads.
White interior, juicy, and mild.
Harvest 57 days.
Lactuca sativa
Red Rosie Romaine Lettuce
Bright red romaine type lettuce.
Upright habit.
Harvest 56 days.
Sylvesta Butter Lettuce
A large, light-green butterhead with
tightly packed hearts.
Harvest 52 days.

Lettuce culture –

Lettuce is most often grown as a leaf vegetable. Ancient Egyptians first cultivated lettuce from a weed, whose seeds were used to produce oil, into a plant grown for its leaves. The English word “lettuce” is derived from the Roman word “lactuca” (lac meaning milk in Latin) due to the white substance that is exuded when its stem is cut. Christopher Columbus brought lettuce to the Americas from Europe in the late 15th century.

Lettuce is generally grown as a hardy annual, is easily cultivated, and grows best in full sun in loose, nitrogen-rich soils. There are several types of lettuce, but three (leaf, head and romaine) are the most common.

Loose leaf lettuce – easiest to grow and hardiest in hot weather.

Butter head lettuce – a cross between head lettuce and leaf lettuce with a loose, leafy, head-shaped center. Prefers cooler weather.

Romaine lettuce – leaves grow straight up in a central bunch. Tolerates some heat but is not as easy to grow as leaf lettuce.

Some varieties of lettuce can be overwintered even in relatively cold climates under a layer of straw. Older, heirloom varieties are often grown in cold frames. Heat generally prompts lettuce to bolt. When this happens the leaves become bitter. Growing it when temperatures are relatively low will help to prevent it from flowering (bolting) too quickly. Lettuces have a wide range of shapes and textures, from the dense heads of the iceberg type to the notched, scalloped, or frilled leaves of leaf varieties. The leaves are colorful, mainly in the green and red color spectrums, but there are some variegated varieties.

Lettuce is most often used in salads, either alone or with other greens. It is often paired with vegetables, meats, and cheeses; although it is also seen in other kinds of food, such as soups, sandwiches and wraps. Lettuce is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium, and fiber. It has a high water content (about 95%). This causes problems when attempting to preserve the plant. It cannot be successfully be frozen, canned or dried and is best when eaten fresh.