Growing Guide – Summer Crisp Lettuces

Growing Guide - Summer Crisp Lettuces

The weather is warming up here in Utah and despite our best efforts and shade cloth our spring planted lettuce always seems to get bitter by mid June.  All our favorite lettuces like butter crunch, Larry’s red and Paris Island Cos get bitter in the hot Utah summers.  We love salads and we love having salads with all of our summer veggies mixed in!  There nothing better than a salad full of cucumbers & tomatoes.  And we love having a big bunch of crispy lettuce along with a slice of tomato on our sandwiches or hamburgers.  But until we discovered Summer Crisp Lettuces we were just out of luck in June, July, August and even into September.  Our summer heat just makes the cool season lettuces to bitter to eat!

IMG_7101[1]

Mrs. Stoney was always complaining about having to buy lettuce from the grocery store to have with our Garden grown tomatoes!  So I started doing some home work.  That’s when I discovered Summer Crisp Lettuces.

IMG_0165

Summer crisp lettuces are all hybrid plants.  Which is unfortunate, I’d love to be able to save seeds.  But the great thing about summer crisps is that they are extremely heat tolerant.  On top of heat tolerance they are also very resistant to tip burn, bottom rot and bolting.  They all are loose head type lettuces (think butter crunch).  So if left to maturity they form a loose head where the inner leaves will be nicely blanched and crisp.

Our favorite variety is called Nevada and it actually forms a slightly tighter head that stays mild and crisp even during  the 100 degree days we have in July and August.  The seed sellers don’t advertise this fact but Nevada is not only heat tolerant but also very cold tolerant as well.  Last fall we planted Nevada directly in the garden in late September, the plants got to be about 3 inches tall before the winter set in.  These plants survived all winter in a cold frame and took off growing again in February and lasted until June!  That sure makes it easy to have salads all year long.

IMG_0164

Summer crisp lettuces come in a variety of colors, including greens, reds and a very pretty speckled variety as well.  They are available from several seed sellers online but my favorite is Johnny’s Seeds.  (We love Johnny’s by the way).  Maturity dates are pretty standard for lettuce, most varieties are ready to eat in about 45 to 50 days.  But the nice thing is because they are so heat tolerant, they can be left in the garden for a long time and can continue to grow.  Last year we had a couple of heads of  Nevada that weighed in at 1.50 pounds each and were still mild and delicious.

IMG_0171

We try to start lettuce about every 3 weeks, either indoors or directly in the garden.  I have found Summer Crisps do very well when started indoors under the lights and then transplanted out later in the garden.  We switch all our lettuce plantings to Summer Crisps about mid May and don’t switch back to other varieties until August 1st.  If you start them indoors in cell packs about every 3 weeks (set them out in the garden when they are around 6 weeks old) you will have a constant supply of fresh lettuce all summer long.

Anybody else out there growing summer crisp lettuces?  I’d love to hear about the taste and performance of some of the other varieties like Muir, Concept, Cherokee or Magenta!

11 Comments

  1. Daphne May 28, 2014 8:18 am Reply

    I’m growing Summertime this year. I’ll see how it does. I’m also going to see how long Little Gem and Red Sails will last.

    http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/

  2. Erica Hale May 28, 2014 1:20 pm Reply

    Stopping by from Thank Your Body…thanks for the comment there! Exciting to find your site, this is great. I haven’t bothered with planting lettuce the last few years, because I always seem to get a late start (I homeschool and the end of the year is crazy). Seems like I plant it and before we really get to enjoy it, it bolts and that’s that. I’ll have to try the Nevada lettuce, exciting to have an option that won’t only grow from April till mid June!

    http://www.thankyourbody.com/

  3. Christie May 28, 2014 8:07 pm Reply

    Thank you! I had no idea what varieties would be good for the summer.

  4. Tanya @ Seven Springs Homestead June 2, 2014 8:13 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing this post on the Green Thumb Thursday Garden Blog Hop. We hope you will join us again this Thursday.
    I have often had the same complaint about lettuce and tomatoes not coming in at the same time. I am going to do more research on this lettuce and see how it will grow in my neck of the woods. 🙂

    http://www.sevenspringshomestead.com

  5. Gentle Joy June 2, 2015 8:34 am Reply

    Your lettuces look great… we are hoping to get some this year, if the bunnies leave them alone!!! Not sure what to do about them, but I have added a new planter to a deck in hopes of keeping some out of reach!

    http://gentlejoyphotography.blogspot.com

  6. katie July 1, 2017 4:49 pm Reply

    Thank you for the informative article. I am going to be on the lookout for Nevada Lettuce for my garden. I am going to read your article on Cucumbers also.

    http://Www.gotchaguys.com

Leave a Reply to Tanya @ Seven Springs Homestead Cancel reply