Leaf Lettuce Harvest
Lettuce is a salad staple. For home gardeners, leaf lettuce is one of the easiest types to grow. You can begin harvesting outer leaves as soon as they are large enough to use by snipping individual leaves with scissors. The inner leaves will continue to grow and provide an extended harvest.
Colorful Leaf Lettuce
Leaf lettuces are available in a dazzling array of colors and leaf shapes, from the frilly red foliage of ‘Lolla Rossa’ shown here; to solid green, lobed ‘Royal Oak Leaf’; to mottled bronze, burgundy, and green ‘Red Sails’; and varieties that offer speckled or streaked leaves. Try growing several types to add punches of color and texture to your salads.
Considered by many to be the highest-quality lettuce type, romaine forms a loose, upright head of elongated leaves. It is also sometimes called cos lettuce, and it’s the basic ingredient in Caesar salads. Green, red, or speckled varieties are available. This medium green variety is ‘Parris Island Cos’, an heirloom type from the 1950s.
Outer leaves of butterhead lettuce are darkly colored, and inner ones are creamy yellow and extremely mild in flavor. The plant forms a loose head that resembles a rosette. ‘Bibb’ and ‘Buttercrunch’ are two popular green varieties. ‘Tom Thumb’ is a dwarf type especially well suited to growing in containters.
New Zealand Spinach
When hot weather takes a toll on cool-season salad crops, New Zealand spinach thrives. This heat lover is slow to start in spring but withstands the long, hot days of midsummer. Leaves look similar to regular spinach and have a mild flavor that doesn’t turn bitter in the heat.