These days, lettuce can be one of the most beautiful crops in your garden, and it’s much easier and more intriguing to grow than in the days when iceberg lettuce was the salad-bowl staple. Here’s a guide to the full range of lettuce choices. Leaf. These fast-growing, easy lettuces take only 45 to 60 days from seed to full-size plants and are also called cutting and looseleaf lettuce. Many cultivars are available, and leaf edges can be wavy to curly, very frilly, or lobed (like oak leaves). Romaine or Cos These form loose heads of long, broad leaves that mature in 50 to 70 days from seed. Butterhead Also called Boston or bibb lettuce, these form a loose head and have exceptionally tender, succulent leaves. Plants take from 50 to 75 days to mature from seed. Summer Crisp Also listed as French crisp lettuce, summer crisp lettuces are intermediate between Butterhead and Crisphead lettuce. They have crisp leaves that eventually form a firm head and generally take 50 to 75 days to mature from seed. Pick the leaves individually, or wait to harvest the entire head. Crisphead. Also called iceberg lettuces, these produce firm, solid heads of crisp, juicy leaves. Older cultivars need 75 days of cool weather to form heads, but newer ones released for home gardeners make this crop easier to grow. Still, crispheads ideally need about 2 months of days in the 60s/15.6-20.5?C to form a head. Batavian or summer crisp-type cultivars usually form heads (and will not bolt) as long as temperatures don’t exceed about 75?F/23.8?C during the day and stay above 50?F/10?C at night. Reprinted from The Veggie Gardener's Answer Book Copyright 2008 by Barbara W. Ellis, with permission from Storey Publishing.
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