I like to grow a variety of gourmet lettuce because it costs way too much at the grocery store. It is very fresh when you just pick it from the back yard as needed.
What better way to get a variety, then to use a variety seed pack. I love the Mesclun Valentine pack from Botanical Interests. The seven lettuces are Valentine red:
1) Marvel of Four Seasons – A butterhead lettuce forming in a rosette shape. The rosettes can get up to 12″ in diameter. The leaves are green at the base and cranberry-red on the end. The leaves are buttery tasting and won’t get bitter as it heats up outside.
2) Lolla Rossa – This plant has loose-leaf heads with curly magenta leaves. It grows to 7 inches tall. This plant does best if planted in Spring and Fall. If growing in the summer, it prefers shade in the afternoon.
3) Redina – Loose-leaf lettuce that has a green base and bright red on the curly edges.
3) Red Oak Leaf – The leaves on this plant look like oak leaves which is where its name comes from. Also, it forms loose-leaf heads. While the leaves look delicate, they remain tender and sweet even when it warms up outside.
4) Red Salad Bowl – This is another loose-leaf lettuce which has green and red tipped leaves. It is very heat tolerant so it keeps its sweet tasting leaves throughout the summer.
5) Rouge d’Hiver – This is a Romaine lettuce with a green heart and brownish red leaves. The leaves have a buttery flavor. The plant is cold tolerant.
6) Ruben’s Red – Another Romaine lettuce with a green base and burgundy leaves.
For the above lettuces, you can pick individual baby leaves. It you decide to harvest the head, leave a 2″ base and wait for more leaves to emerge from the center.
For more information on Romaine lettuce, see the blog titled “Romaine Lettuce – Seed or Scrap?”.
As for the butterhead types of lettuce, I got a few varieties to grow in some of my containers on the back patio. The back patio get shade in the afternoon so I think it will be a perfect spot. I got a packet of Marvel of Four Seasons (see above) and Speckles from Botanical interests and Bibb lettuce from Ferry-Morse. Speckles has green tender leaves with red freckles or speckles! The Bibb lettuce is just green.