March is for Lettuce!

Early spring in Metro Atlanta is the perfect time to plant lettuce, greens and spinach.  The cool temps and the warm sunshine will put lettuce on your dinner plate in just 30 to 45 days!  Better yet, plant successively (every week) through the end of April to enjoy bountiful , succulent lettuce right up until the days heat up in June.  (It’s also the perfect spring gift!)  Here are my best lettuce pointers.

Types of Lettuce
There are basically four types of lettuce:  crisphead, butterhead, romaine, and looseleaf. I don’t bother with crisphead; that’s iceberg which has no nutritional value.  Butterhead varieties are great because they form smaller, looser heads that are tender, hence the name.  Romaine grows upright in a loose, cylinder form.

Looseleaf is my favorite because it is exactly what it sounds like; loose leaves of lettuce.  Loose leaf has the advantage of being a “cut and come again” crop which means you can cut it ½” above the soil and have another crop growing from the same roots in a matter of weeks.  Translation – several harvests from one planting.

Plants or Seeds?
Skip the lettuce plants and go for seeds.  The plants are usually already overgrown and tough by the time they make it to the public and lettuce is so easy to sprout, it makes no economical sense to buy plants.  There are lots of lettuce choices when you hit the seed section of your local big box or hardware store.  Mail order is fun for even more choices such as “Tennis Ball”, a favorite of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello or Flame Lettuce, which is a ridiculous color of bright red!  There are literally thousands of varieties which make for a very amusing and nutritious salad bowl.

Lettuce is easy to grow, one of the most forgiving home garden crops and can even be grown in a planter or pot on your deck.  Decrease your grocery bill and increase your palette with this Smart Living tip!


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