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Lettuce - Cool Crop for
While it is too early to plant tomatoes, now is the perfect time to plant lettuce. The key to growing a successful crop is to plant and mature the lettuce in cool weather. Lettuce is an annual plant that will bolt (produce a flower stalk) and become bitter when temperatures stay above 70 F.
Iceberg, or more correctly called crisp head type lettuce, used to predominate
produce shelves at most grocery stores. Crisp head cultivars require a
fairly long, cool growing season of 70-85 days.
But, in recent years, the more nutritious, leaf-type lettuces have gained
in popularity. Most leaf types require only half the growing time, generally,
from 40-50 days. Leaf lettuce produces a loose arrangement of leaves on
the stalk. Leaves may be green, such as the cultivars Black-Seeded Simpson,
Green Ice, and
There are other non-crisp head types of lettuce that can also be grown
Cos or romaine type lettuce forms elongated, stiff leaves that make an
upright, loose head.
As temperatures get warm, lettuce begins to bolt, and the leaves develop a bitter flavor. It's best to pull up and discard bolted plants and replace them with a warm season crop.
If you've missed out on planting lettuce this spring, don't dismay. Leaf lettuce makes an excellent planting for a fall crop. Plant seeds in late August or early September to allow sufficient time to harvest a crop before killing temperatures arrive.