Quick guide to lettuce

Varieties of lettuce (Lactuca sativa) come in all shapes, textures, flavors and sizes. Most are hardy, cool season crops that can be planted as early as the soil can be worked. They are easily grown from seed from spring through late summer (with some protection from hot afternoon sun) and again in the cool temperatures of fall. Lettuce grows quickly: water frequently and fertilize with fish emulsion or compost tea. For baby greens, sow thickly and harvest with scissors.


Batavian or French Crisp- The hardiest of all lettuce, Batavian is a blend of looseleaf and crisphead with a rich flavor. It holds less water than crispheads and more vitamins as well. Broad leaves with edged frills hold up well for rolls and wraps. It doesn't ship well and is found less often in markets. 'Laura', 'Loma', 'Nevada'.

Butterhead- Rosettes of tender leaves have a sweet taste and buttery texture. Leaves are broader than long and can be gently savoyed or ruffled. 'Bibb', 'Boston','Lime', 'Buttercrunch', 'Pirate', 'Four Seasons', 'Tom Thumb', 'Red Riding Hood', 'Esmerelda', 'Continuity', 'Speckled Amish'.

Crisphead or Heading- Large, firm heads of crunchy texture with a high water content and mild flavor. Commonly referred to as Iceberg. 70% is grown in CA. 'Red Iceberg', 'Summertime', 'Reine Des Glaces'.

Looseleaf- Sweet to mild tasting in an amazing array of colors and shapes, one of the most varied types of lettuce. Red, green, bronze, speckled or combination colors make for a treat to look at and to eat. Leaves may also be curled, frilled or deeply lobed. Red or Green 'Deer Tongue', Red or Green 'Oakleaf', 'Sweet Valentine', 'Thai Green', 'Red Sails', 'Mascara', 'Merlot', 'New Red Fire'. 

Romaine or Cos- Juicy and crunchy with a refreshingly distinctive flavor, heavily ribbed centers on an oblong head, leaves longer than they are wide. Romaine or Cos (an ancient city in Greece ) has been cultivated, eaten cooked or raw for almost 5,000 years. May very well be the oldest form of cultivated lettuce. 'Jericho', 'Rouge d'Hiver' (Red in Winter), 'Forellenschluss' (Troutsback), 'Little Gem', 'Petite Rouge', 'Devil's Tongue', 'Outredgeous', 'Valmaine'.


Lettuce is a good source of vitamin A, C and K as well as calcium, potassium and iron. It also has trace elements of copper and manganese and anti-oxidants.