The early Romans, who treated lettuce as a luxury food, were intrigued by the milky juice that exuded from the cut stem. In fact, the word lettuce derives from the Latin word lac, or “milk”. The Egyptians ate a romaine-type lettuce that grew on the island of Cos off the Turkish coast. In 1493, Christopher Columbus sailed to the West Indies bringing lettuce seeds which were used to test the soil. By 1565, lettuce grew profusely in Haiti
The four main market types are:
- Butterhead, Bibb or Boston is smaller, looser-headed lettuce with tender, delicately flavoured leaves that bruise easily.
- Iceberg or crisphead lettuce has a firm head that reaches about six inches in diameter. It has great texture and taste.
- Looseleaf (leaf lettuce) does not form a head, but grows in a circular patch. Its leaves are tender and may be smooth or crinkled, ruffled, or curled. They range from green and yellowish green to reddish and bronze.
- Romaine or Cos lettuce has long, stiff leaves with a crisp, coarse texture; it cooks well because the leaves won’t dissolve. Romaine lettuce is the sweetest of all lettuce.
Great salads start with freshly picked lettuce. Plant a mixture of different lettuce and supplement it with a range of spicy greens such as radicchio as well as vitamin-rich Swiss chard. Lettuce is easy to grow and can be grown in small spaces and in containers. They can be tucked between and under taller vegetables such as tomatoes, corn, and trellised pole beans.
Lettuce is a cool weather crop and may bolt or develop a bitter taste in high temperatures and during long days. To counteract this, choose heat-tolerant and bolt-resistant varieties and plant in partial shade. All varieties of Tried & True® Edibles lettuce are slow to bolt. For tender leaves, keep the soil moist. Also, side-dress with mulch to keep the soil cool, moist and to control weeds.
Beets, brassicas (i.e. brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, etc.), carrots, radishes, and strawberries all make great companions to lettuce. Also, chives and garlic are excellent companions because they deter aphids.
|Nutrition||Most lettuce are good sources of iron and other trace elements; low in calories and high in fiber. They are fair sources of vitamin A and C. Once cup of most types of lettuce has about 10 calories and a whole head of iceberg lettuce has 70 calories.|
|Harvesting||Pick leaves from the outside edges of plants. The plants will continue producing new leaves from the center. Begin harvesting baby lettuce about two to three weeks after setting out transplants. Romaine lettuce forms its characteristic thick mid-rib before harvest; at full size, 8 – 12 inches (20 – 30cm), it forms an upright leafy head.|
|Storing||Lettuce is best eaten just after harvesting. To store lettuce, refrigerate it unwashed in plastic bags for a few days.|
This beautiful and striking lettuce is an old French Heirloom and has been commercially available since 1885. Vigorous growth forming 8 – 12” (20 – 30cm) wide rounded heads of green leaves deeply tinged with bright bronze-red. Also known as ‘Marvel of Four Seasons’ or ‘Merveille des Quatre Saison’ and as the name implies Continuity… Read more »
Add colour, flavour and texture to your salads with this gourmet and tasty assortment of salad leaves and old favourites. Good for baby leaf production and container gardening.
Bergam’s Green has tight uniform medium-large heads with dark green colour and attractive frilly leaves. This pretty non-heading type of lettuce has a nice sweet flavour. It is a high yielding variety that is slow to bolt and tolerant to tip burn. Good for late spring, summer, and fall harvests.
This popular lettuce produces a substantial head of frilly reddish bronze leaves with deep red margins. Produces quality, medium-sized heads with strong upright leaves. Excellent tolerance to bolting and adaptable to warm and cool conditions.
Parris Island was introduced in 1952 and continues to be favourite amongst lettuce lovers. This romaine has upright heads of large thick medium-green slightly rumpled leaves with creamy white hearts. It is sweet, crisp and flavourful. Parris Island has superior uniformity and is slow to bolt.
Introduced before 1885, this well-known heirloom has smooth, flat, red-bronze tinged leaves with green veins. In cold weather, the leaves turn an attractive deep red. This hardy and productive variety is resistant to heat and cold so it is suitable for spring, autumn and winter crops.
Back to Organic Edibles.