Lettuce is the staple salad crop. Home gardeners have an enormous variety to choose from. In Texas the most successful are the leaf and butter head lettuces. The old standby, iceberg, is difficult to grow in warm weather areas. Leaf lettuce comes in different colors and textures. The most common is Black-Seeded Simpson. It has been around for years and matures in about 45 days. No lettuce will grow well in 90 degree heat but it will handle 80 degree days. Upright growing strains like Romaine will do well if planted early. Butter head lettuce like Buttercrunch is a medium green thick leaf lettuce with a buttery texture. It takes 75 days but its delicate flavor and texture are outstanding and the high grocery store price makes it worth a try. Most lettuce when exposed to high temperatures will “bolt” to seed and turn bitter.
Planting is simple. At the top of a row trace a straight line about 1/2 inch deep with a stick or other object and sprinkle in the seed then cover lightly and water gently. As the plants begin to emerge thin carefully to allow growth. Harvest leaves as they become eating size by carefully cutting or pinching them from the plants to allowing more to grow or you can wait until the plant is mature and harvest the entire thing.
Keep the soil moisture constant to avoid bitterness. Lettuce is susceptible to extremes of any kind and its flavor will be affected. Applying compost around the base of the plants will help moderate the extremes.
Romaine or Buttercrunch are best harvested when the plant is mature.
Insects are attracted to more nutritious vegetables but a good stand of lettuce may prove irresistible. A light dusting of Nature’s Guide Diatomaceous Earth is usually sufficient protection.
Field of Lettuce