By: Teo Spengler
You can call it Summer Crisp, French crisp or Batavia, but these Summer Crisp lettuce plants are a lettuce lover’s best friend. Most lettuce grows best in cool weather, but Summer Crisp lettuce varieties tolerate summer heat. If you are looking for lettuce to grow next summer, read on. We’ll give you lots of Summer Crisp lettuce information, including tips for growing Summer Crisp lettuce in your garden.
If you’ve ever eaten lettuce grown in too-hot weather, it’s likely you found it bitter tasting and even tough. That’s a good reason to put in Summer Crisp lettuce plants. These plants grow happily in summer heat. But they remain sweet, without any trace of bitterness.
Summer Crisp lettuce varieties are a great meld of open lettuce and compact heads. They grow in loose, making it easy for you to harvest the outer leaves if you like, but they mature into a compact heads.
Summer Crisp lettuce varieties are all hybrid plants. That means that you can’t be a frugal seed-saver, but the plants have been bred to be extremely heat tolerant. Summer Crisp plants are also very slow to bolt and less resistant to tipburn or rot. On the other hand, you can grow Summer Crisp lettuce when it’s cool, just like other lettuce varieties. In fact, some varieties are even cold tolerant too.
Among the different Summer Crisp varieties, you’ll find green lettuce, red lettuce and also a multicolored, speckled type. Most of the varieties take about 45 days to go from planting to harvest. But you don’t have to pick at 45 days. You can pick outer baby leaves early for sweet, delicious salads. The rest of the plant will continue to produce. Or leave the heads in the garden for a much longer period than 45 days and they will continue to grow.
If you want to start growing Summer Crisp lettuce, work in some organic compost into the soil before you plant. Summer crisp varieties perform better with fertile soil.
You’ll find lots of great Summer Crisp lettuce varieties in commerce. ‘Nevada’ is among the most popular, with a sweet nutty taste. It forms large, handsome heads. ‘Concept’ lettuce is very sweet, with thick, juicy leaves. Harvest as baby lettuce leave or let full heads develop.
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CRISPHEAD-(syn.'Iceberg', 'cabbage lettuce') this was virtually the only kind of lettuce in existance in the consciousness of the New Zealanders of the 50's and 60's . In the UK and USA, this type is referred to as 'iceberg' lettuce, as it is so crisp and has such a white, crisp, densely packed heart. Sometimes also known as 'cabbagehead' lettuce. Crisphead varieties bred specifically for summer growing are slow to bolt. Their main problem in summer is a slimy internal rotting.
Photo: a very good photo and some notes on lettuce types and how to store and use them are at this page.
SUMMER CRISP-(syn. 'French crisp', 'Batavian') unknown to many of us, yet one of the best lettuce types, Although variable between the various varieties, overall it is perhaps intermediate between the crisphead and the loose leaf lettuce. The outer leaves are thick, crisp and flavorsome, the often conic heart/head is crisp and sweet. In some varieties, the outer leaves can be harvested as a loose leaf until the head starts to form. These are quite large lettuces, and need good fertility. Their particular virtue, apart from their top rate taste, is their ability to 'stand' without bolting.
BUTTERHEAD-(syn.'boston', 'bibb') until fairly recently, the best known type of lettuce in the UK and very popular in USA. It is also the European lettuce. This type has thick but soft and tender leaves forming a cream coloured, soft, blanched heart. The outer leaves are large and ruffled. The very finest tasting lettuces, such as 'Nancy', are in this group. Butterheads are rarely bitter, quick maturing, more tolerant of less than ideal soil and weather conditions than crispheads, even if they don't 'stand' for a long time in the garden without bolting.
LOOSE-LEAF-(syn. 'leaf') Well known and appreciated in the USA, but for years relatively unknown in the Southern Hemisphere until the explosion in hydroponic lettuce growing. These are the easiest of all lettuce types to grow. They form no heart or head, and are, as the name implies, a cascade of loose leaves, which may pe picked without cutting the whole plant. There is great variety in this group-thick leaves, thin leaves, savoyed leaves like a silverbeet leaf, flat leaves, red, green, frilled, cut, curled, and so on. Some, such as 'royal oak leaf', are outstanding-thick, tender, delicious. Others, such as 'lollo rosso', look great on a plate, but are uninspiring eating. As a group, they tend to bolt more quickly in heat than other types.
COS-(syn 'romaine') Supposedly originally from the island of Cos in the Mediterranean, this type of lettuce is very upright and columnar, forming a particulalry sweet creamy white crisp heart, surronded by sturdy outer leaves. Fairly demanding to grow, in terms of being unforgiving of poor conditions (a bitter reward), and poorly adapted to hot weather. Some claim this type to be the sweetest and best tasting of all when grown well. All things being equal, in hot weather, the crispheads are the slowest to bolt, then the summercrisps, the bostons, the leaf lettuces and finally the cos types.
Photo: a very good photo at a major vegetable exporters site.
An asterisk (*) indicates the variety can also be grown in summer.
*GREAT LAKES-dependable solid, bolt resistant
*WEBBS WONDERFUL-large hearted, frilly leafed, dark green, adaptable, bolt resistant.
*SALADIN (syn 'Salinas)-uniform, vigorous, large firm mid green head, rot resistant, bolt resistant.
*CENTENNIAL- performs well summer and winter, centennial looks very similar to a criphead type, but the outer leaves remain crisp and edible, while the head is greener and with more flavor than a crsiphead. It 'stands' in the garden very well, even in hot weather.
VICTORIA-a very vigorous, large, and upright lettuce, the outer leaves are deep green, crisp thick and juicy, the loose heart is semi blanched, crisp and sweet. Victoria resists tip burn and bolting.
The "cut-and-come-again" method of harvesting lettuce is an excellent choice for heat because you harvest leaves young before the plant has time to bolt. This method can be practiced with any variety of loose-leaf or butterhead lettuce. Snip baby leaves within an inch of their bases and when new leaves grow in their place, take a second harvest. The bright green "Buttercrunch," rich and mild-tasting, is a particularly heat-tolerant "cut-and-come-again" lettuce. Watering seeds regularly, protecting small plants from excessive light and cutting the leaves when they are still small produces best results.
We love home grown lettuce! We could eat a salad every night. In fact it was the desire to have lettuce more often that first got us into winter gardening and season extension. Lettuce in Utah is really good in the fall and petty good in the early spring, but as the temperatures rise in mid May the plants bolt or get bitter.
It has always frustrated us that we have this great bounty of fresh veggies and salad ingredients with no home grown lettuce.
We have finally found a solution. Its a summer crisp lettuce call Nevada.
Look at this beautiful head of lettuce! And it’s August! No signs of bolting, no tip burn and best of all it tastes delicious! Not even a trace of bitterness despite 19 days of over 100 degree weather during the month of July!
We got the seeds from the Johnny’s Seed catalog. Here’s what Johnny’s says about Nevada:
“Bright green leaves form dense, closed heads. Resists tipburn, bottom rot, and bolting, and its great taste stays mild.”
I have to say it really lived up to its promises.
Nevada is a tasty, beautiful lettuce! It is kind of a cross between a leaf lettuce and a bib lettuce. It has plenty of leaf but also has a nice crunchy rib.
They get a nice compact center, but not nearly as compact as a bib or romaine. I guess you could use this as a cut and come again plant but the nice heads lend themselves better to just harvesting the whole head at once. When mature each head weighs in at about 1/2 pound.
Here’s another shot of the leaves. You can see the nice thick ribbing on that middle piece.
Now the only problem is we are going to eat it all up in just a week! It is so good that we can’t keep ourselves from heading out to the garden every night and harvesting a head! Now that we have discovered this awesome variety we are going to have to stagger plantings all summer. I think I will start the first seeds in doors in early May to set out in June. These plants went from good sized seedlings (about 6 weeks old) to what you see above in about 3 weeks. I think staggered plantings either indoors or right out in the garden will keep us in lettuce all summer long!! The only real disadvantage I see with these plants is that they are F1 hybrids so I won’t be able to save seeds. I would really recommend Nevada Summer Crisp Lettuce!
**This review was not paid for by any one, it’s another unbiased review of plants we grew on our own here at Stoney Acres.
Hi I'm Rick. And I am a gardening fanatic! I love growing organic fruits and vegetables in my backyard garden. And I love teaching others how to grow their own organic food!