Romaine Lettuce –
If you want to reduce your supermarket bill and also improve the quality of your salads, grow lettuce — and grow it in variety. With very little space, you’ll have a steady supply of wonderful salads from earliest spring until past frost. You’ll have only a short hiatus in the hottest parts of summer, when this cool-season vegetable stops producing.
Lettuce comes in four basic types: crisphead, butterhead, loose-leaf, and romaine. Crisphead types are also called iceberg or Batavian lettuce. Butterhead lettuces form smaller, looser heads. Loose-leaf lettuce has an open growth pattern and doesn’t form a head. Romaine or cos lettuce forms upright, cylindrical heads.
Lettuce grows best at cool temperatures. It becomes bitter and goes to seed in summer heat, but you can find types touted as more heat-tolerant.
Winchester Gardens generally stocks this item.
Annual – Edible
Green, Light Green
Select a site with full sun and well-drained soil. Light midday shade can extend the harvest season. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost.
For earliest harvest, start seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date and set them out after 3 weeks. Sow seeds indoors 1/2 inch apart, 1/4 inch deep, in 4-inch-deep flats. Set out transplants spaced 3 to 4 inches apart for leaf lettuce, 6 to 8 inches for Cos and loose-headed types, and 12 to 16 inches for firm-headed types such as head lettuce. Plant seeds outdoors in beds or rows 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. Plant heat-resistant lettuce varieties for late spring sowings, and choose a semi-shaded area to extend the harvest into the summer. Start fall crops in flats or directly in the garden in midsummer in northern states and in late summer in central and southern gardens.
Mulch plants in early summer to keep the soil cool. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Insects and diseases are rare in home lettuce plantings. However, contact your local County Extension office for controls of common lettuce pests such as slugs, earwigs and whiteflies.
Begin picking outer leaves of butterhead, loose-leaf, and romaine lettuce varieties when they are 2 inches long. Continue to harvest outer leaves as long as the flavor remains good. You can also cut the entire plant at the base when it reaches the desired size. Extend the harvest season by sowing small patches of lettuce every three weeks until late spring, then again in late summer for fall harvest.
Beet, cabbage family, carrot, onion, radish, strawberry. Chives and garlic deter aphids.