A favorite of Italian and French gardeners and chefs.
Sugarloaf is a romaine-type lettuce heirloom that's ever-popular in Italy and France. Large and firm, the tightly wrapped heads, weighing 2-4 lb., have pretty light-green leaves. There's a nutty undertone to the flavor, along with a escarole's signature tangy bitterness: delicious in salads or on its own.
Sow seeds 1/4" deep in rich soil early in spring when the ground can be worked, in rows 6-8" apart. Seeds can be broadcast thinly along rows or wide bands. Firm lightly and keep evenly moist. For continuous crops, resow every other week until weather gets too warm. Using shade cloths, provide shade in hot weather to slow bolting. Seedlings emerge in 10-14 days.
How to Grow Salad Greens
For mature head harvest, thin to stand 6" apart when 1-2" high. If growing as baby leaf, do not thin. Keep plants well watered during dry periods to promote rapid, uninterrupted growth. It is best to water the roots, instead of overhead irrigation, to reduce possibility of disease.
Harvesting Salad Greens
Salad greens are quick and easy to harvest. Most can be cut in 30-55 days. Harvest baby leaves when 4-6" long. Radicchios take up to 90 days to harvest. Fresh salad greens can be cut at your own leisure, shortly before preparing salads. Pick and choose leaves to combine colors, crispiness and flavors from different varieties. Cut when leaves are crispy, avoiding times of intense heat.
Salad greens can be great space savers, intercropped with onions, radishes, parsley and as edging for peas and beans on poles. These make a wonderful collage of ornamental edibles, especially when color schemes are planned for both nutritional and ornamental value. Highlight colors with Swiss Chards, strawberries, violas, dainty dianthus, snapdragons, and Bull's Blood beets.