Lettuce, Tom Thumb
English heirloom butterhead's yellowish-lime-colored leaves have mild, creamy taste.
Type Some flowers and vegetables fall into subcategories that may define how they grow (such as pole or bush), what they are used for (such as slicing tomatoes or shelling peas), flower type, or other designations that will help you select the type of a class of plant that you are looking for.
Days To Maturity The average number of days from when the plant is actively growing in the garden to the expected time of harvest.
Leaf Texture The typical height of this product at maturity.
Sun The amount of sunlight this product needs daily in order to perform well in the garden. Full sun means 6 hours of direct sun per day; partial sun means 2-4 hours of direct sun per day; shade means little or no direct sun.
Full Sun, Part Sun
Spread The width of the plant at maturity.
Height The typical height of this product at maturity.
How to Sow
- Sow lettuce seeds in average soil in full sun in early spring for first crop. Sow in late summer for fall crop.
- Sow every two weeks to extend harvests.
- In late summer, sow in a protected are that stays below 75 degrees F.
- Sow thinly in rows 12 inches apart and cover with ¼ inch of fine soil.
- Follow the spacing recommended on the seed packet for specific varieties.
- Firm lightly and keep evenly moist.
- Seedlings emerge in 7-10 days.
How to Grow
- Thin to stand 8 inches apart when seedlings are 1-2 inches tall.
- Keep lettuce plants well watered during dry periods to promote rapid, uninterrupted growth.
- Lettuce is shallow-rooted, so avoid disturbing the soil around the plants when weeding.
- Unless there is regular rainfall, lettuce plants must be watered deeply at least once a week and more frequently during periods of drought.
- Mulch with a layer of compost or clean straw to help the soil retain moisture.
Harvest and Preserving Tips
- For the best quality, pick lettuce early rather than late as lettuce allowed to grow too long may be bitter and tough.
- Try to harvest in the morning when the leaves are crisp, sweet, and full of moisture.
- Harvest looseleaf types anytime the leaves are large enough to use.
- Harvest butterhead types when they have formed heads and the leaves are a good size.
- Cut the heads below the crown.
- On leaf types, you can just pick a few leaves at a time, if you like.
- Store for 5-7 days in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Many gardeners wrap leaves in moist paper towels.
- Lettuce is a classic ingredient in salads. It adds crispness to sandwiches and can be used as a garnish, braised, or added to soups. Many of the looseleaf cultivars are also decorative in the garden.