Lettuce is one of those welcome early arrivals in the home vegetable garden, and one which can be sown directly into northern New Jersey gardens as early as 3 weeks before the last anticipated spring frost. Here in our corner of Passaic County that date is somewhere in the neighborhood of April 20. However, for those planning to start their lettuce indoors and transplant it to the garden, the time to start is right now.
Fortunately seeds racks are beginning to sprout up in home improvement centers, hardware and garden supply stores as well as supermarkets so there is still a little time remaining. Order immediately and there is even time to get your favorite variety online from the numerous seed suppliers dwelling on the web.
For dedicated salad fanciers the decision might be if one variety of lettuce is enough or if two or more might be more productive. Loose leaf lettuce gives the best jump on the season. According to the lettuce pages of the Burpee Seed catalog some varieties are ready for the table just 28 days from germination. And with names like elite salad, deer’s tongue, oak leaf and arugula there is certain to be a lettuce to suit everyone’s taste.
Head lettuce is becoming mature just as loose leaf lettuce begins to fade so planting this more familiar, grocery store variety will extend the fresh lettuce season by several weeks. Territorial Seeds offers butternut and crisp head – iceberg type – lettuces that mature in 34 to 70 days. It is easy to see that a little planning can mean a long season of fresh lettuce.
The shear volume of lettuce varieties may come as a surprise to many. Baker Creek Seeds to name one supplier offers 38 varieties of lettuce, mostly loose leaf, and all heirloom, non GMO types.
Both loose leaf and head lettuces grow very well as fall crops so save those leftover seeds and enjoy fresh lettuce in September and October as well!
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