Lettuce, Red Oak Leaf

75 in stock

    • 45 $


Quick Overview

LETTUCE, Red Oak Leaf –
Lactuca sativa var. crispa

FULL SUN Native to many areas of the world, lettuce has been cultivated since, at least, the 6th century BC. It is a staple food crop for most of the world’s cultures. One of the most famous leaf lettuces and one of the oldest, Red Oak Leaf was introduced in the US in the 1800s. Tolerates heat well, long lasting in the garden without becoming bitter, good flavor. Red Oak Leaf can be sown in the early spring for a summer crop and in mid-summer for a fall-winter crop. In the spring, plant as soon as the ground can be worked. Soil should be deeply spaded before planting. Rows should be 12-18 in. apart. When seedlings are 2 in. high, thin, leaving 4-6 in. between plants. Adding lime to the soil before planting will sweeten the lettuce.

Type Spacing Planting Depth Days to Germination Maturity
Leaf 4-6 in. 1 in. 14-21 50

Lettuce, Red Oak Leaf

Lettuce appears to have been domesticated from a weedy species of wild lettuce that produced lettuce leaves on the top of a tall stem. Evidence which supports this theory comes from Egyptian tomb paintings dating back 4500 years which show bundles of stem lettuce being transported.

The first written accounts describing lettuce are from Herodotus, who wrote that lettuce appeared on the royal tables in Persia in 550 BC. The Greeks, including Hippocrates, ascribed medicinal properties to lettuce, and the Romans wrote extensively about it including Pliny who described nine varieties grown in Roman agriculture. It was probably the Romans who introduced lettuce into northern and western Europe.

The Romans popularized a tall cylindrical form of head lettuce which they found growing on the Greek island of Cos. This particular form of lettuce became so popular in Rome that it took the name, “romaine” named after the Eternal City. Romaine lettuce is still often referred to as “cos lettuce” in honor of its original birthplace, the Greek island of Cos.

Lettuce was among the first vegetables brought from Europe to the New World. In 1494, its presence on Isabela Island is mentioned in the writings of Peter Martyr. This suggests that Columbus may have brought the vegetable on his second voyage.

In the early years of the United States, an assortment of lettuces were grown. Head lettuce includes the Crisphead or cabbage type and the Butterhead, the floppy-headed type also known as Bibb or Boston. The leaf lettuce also known as cutting lettuce is a non-heading type which forms rosettes of curled or fringed leaves. Romaine or cos lettuce forms tall cylindrical heads of elongated oval leaves.

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