Though iceberg may be the lettuce most familiar to many of us, it is not the easiest to grow. Fortunately there are other types of lettuce available that are tasty, beautiful and simple to cultivate. The easiest to grow are known as looseleaf or leaf lettuces, which make open, loose heads. Many selections are available, including ruffled green leaf varieties like ‘Simpson Elite’, red blushed or red leaf selections like ‘Red Sails’ and ‘Prizeleaf’, and deeply lobed types that are commonly referred to as ‘Oak Leaf’ varieties. When mixed together, the assortment of colors and textures that looseleaf varieties exhibit make a stunning display in the garden as well as in the salad bowl.
Two other types of lettuce that are easily grown in our area are romaine and butterhead, which is sometimes referred to as bib lettuce. The leaves of romaine lettuce, a staple ingredient in Caesar salad, are thick, crisp, and sweet. They make fairly large heads, and are ready to harvest within 60 to 80 days from planting. Young plants should be spaced 10” to 12” apart. Butterhead lettuces produce small, tightly folded heads of tender leaves with a delicate buttery flavor. Butterhead varieties are ready for harvest in 40 to 50 days and should be spaced six to eight inches apart.
To learn more about salad greens you can plant this spring read the entire article on the Pender Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=HOME+2
If you have questions about growing vegetables contact your local Cooperative Extension office. In Pender County call 259-1235, Mon – Fri, 8am and 5pm, or visit us online anytime at http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=askanexpert, where you can post your questions to be answered by email using the ‘Ask an Expert’ widget!