Best Lettuces to Grow
April 25, 2016
Heads up! There’s something to get excited about in lettuce land. Salanova lettuces have much to offer the indoor grower, backyard gardener, and urban farmer, whether you’re growing fresh food for your own table, or feeding your community. They’re the best lettuces to grow.
Besides being simply beautiful, the heads produce 42% more fresh greens per square foot than any other leaf lettuce variety. Salanova Crispy, Lollo, Oakleaf, and Butter are delicious new stars for the salad plate. You’ve got a choice of green or red leaf in each type, making it a cinch to produce your own salad mix in either soil or hydro culture.
A TRULY EFFICIENT CROP
Excellent pest and disease resistance combined with very little waste. Salanova is the result of many years of traditional breeding. The leaves are precisely arranged around the core, making it simple to a choice of green or red leaf in each type. Coring has never been easier. Using a sharp knife or a special cutter developed just for freeing these awesome greens from the stem, you’ll be done in one swift movement.
A fast growing crop, with staggered germination, it is possible to have uber fresh lettuce always available for a lovely garnish, a sandwich crisper or a full-blown salad. Mix it up for a gourmet look and taste. One commercial grower of Salanova in Germany seeds 3 different varieties per growing block for instant salad variety at market where it’s an instant hit with bouquet flair. Why select plain green lettuce when you can have three colors and types of goodness instead? A trick that you can easily duplicate to get more exciting salads in the small grow room too.
THE COOLEST FRESH LETTUCE IN TOWN
Creating a beautiful salad is super easy with these varieties. The leaves are much smaller than regular lettuces. They’re ready to eat, as is, and require no chopping or tearing into bite size pieces. Just one cut to remove them from the head is all the prep work needed. The leaves are thicker than standard leaf lettuce, giving you more crunchy goodness and better shaping that keeps a salad from turning into a glob after adding the dressing.
With all this eye-catching color, flavor and fresh convenience, it’s pretty hard to resist Salanova lettuces – as a grower and as a consumer. You can also optimize your space, because Salanova varieties give you far more yield than other leaf types and have an improved shelf life. On top of all that, the seed is organic and the plants are GMO free.
ABOUT THE VARIETIES
With so many lettuce types on the market, it’s hard choosing a selection to grow. The process of elimination gets much easier after investigating Salanova. While it is a comparable green to baby leaf lettuces, it offers so much more, including stronger leaves at maturity, and a noticeably increased 3D structure.
Salanova selections are easily divided into incised leaf and multi-leaf types. You can use both types a few leaves at a time too, so it’s a vegetable that fills anyone’s needs. Harvested as living lettuce with roots attached, they remain fresh without refrigeration.
Incised varieties, Lollo and Crispy, have rather frilly, deeply cut leaf edges and give a mixed salad weight, more texture and loft. The Lollo types provide a flavorful base that gives a baby leaf salad much needed structure, loft and weight. The newer Crispy types provide that iceberg crunch as well. All of these hold up well to dressings. Separating the bunch is easily done with a single slice of a sharp knife across the lower stem.
Forming heads with a multitude of uniform baby leaves arranged around a central core, the multi-leaf Oakleaf and Butter varieties add flavor and color so desirable in a beautiful salad. Use them alone or as a group to create the popular baby greens mix. Fast and clean coring is done with one cut using the ingenious Salanova cutter, with no waste whatsoever.
Like all lettuces, this is a cool season crop. One you can easily grow on a sunny balcony, patio, in a flower bed or backyard garden in spring and early summer, but it’s perfect for indoor gardens year around. Salanova varieties finish out at one foot across, so be sure to give it room. From germination to harvest takes 8 weeks in the outdoor garden, and 6 weeks in the indoor hydro garden. Seeding every 3 weeks will keep you in a never-ending supply of fresh salad greens.
Since writing this article 3 years ago for our publication, it’s become the only type I grow. You get a lot more lettuce harvest per square foot of space – the heads are packed with leaves. The mix available at Johnny’s Seeds were selected for best flavor and performance after trial growing the many options in the Salanova line. They have good heat tolerance in zone 5, great flavor, and store well in the refrigerator after whole-head harvest and cleaning. Partial harvest as needed is also an option, even in the veggie garden. They don’t bolt prematurely for me, but will start working on setting seed not long after maturity in the outdoor garden. All in all I find them to be the best lettuces to grow.
Is Salanova lettuce GMO? No, they are all just the result of selective breeding. Organic seed is not available in the US and Canada, but Johnny’s Seed has taken the safe seed pledge. Their Salanova seed is pelleted too for easier sowing and improved germination. No waste to thinning! As long as you aren’t applying fungicides or herbicides, the harvest should be relatively free of chemicals. I don’t have problems with insects eating lettuce leaves, so its a bit mystifying why there’s a need for spraying this crop – but I suppose in some climates it might be an issue.
You will find Salanova seed available at:
Further info: Salanova’s site.
[alert type=white ]This article was originally published in Garden Culture Magazine, Issue 3 under the title, “A Whole New Leaf: Salanova Lettuce”.[/alert]
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