Ruby Red Leaf Lettuce
Seed Count: Approx. 500 seeds
Days to Maturity: 35-53 Days
Description: Ruby Red leaf lettuce is an early maturing, loose leaf, heat tolerant variety with color that doesn't fade, even in hot weather! Its delicious, semi-crispy leaves are mildly sweet, and great in salads, sandwiches, or even used as garnish. This heirloom produces excellent yields of bright green to ruby red, crumpled leaves. In fact, its one of the reddest varieties on the market. Ruby Red is even great to plant in front yard gardens, since its so cute and ornamental looking. The plants grow upright and compact, perfect for gardeners tight on space, like myself. I really enjoy this variety as baby greens, but its great fully grown too!
How To Grow
Sowing: Lettuces grow best in cool weather, so the first crop can be direct sown when the soil temperature reaches at least 35 degrees. Direct sow the seed in rich soil and full sun, spreading them as thinly as possible in rows 1-2' apart. When the seedlings begin to grow, thin them to 8-12" apart. Succession crops can be grown for fresh lettuce all season in areas with cool summers or warm winters; this is accomplished by planting a new crop every 2 weeks.
Growing: Since lettuce has very shallow roots, it needs adequate moisture in order to stay tender and sweet, so keep the soil evenly moist. Applying mulch helps conserve moisture and control weeds. For companion planting benefits, grow lettuce with onions, cucumbers, or carrots. The crisper the lettuce head, the less heat tolerant they will be. However, lettuces can tolerate cold, but should be protected from the wind. If leaves begin to wilt, plants need more water. Hand weed as necessary, but be careful with their shallow roots.
Harvesting: Lettuce retains its crisp sweetness when harvested early in the morning. Most types of lettuce will produce a second or even third crop after being cut, if the weather stays cool. Leaves can be gathered all season until the main stem of the plant starts to grow, at which time the leaves will grow bitter. To harvest the entire plant, cut it right above the surface of the soil. Lettuce will bolt when weather is too hot. To avoid selecting negative traits, gather seed from the plants that are slow to bolt. After the stalk flowers and produces pods, the pods will turn light brown and split open; in order to prevent seed loss, shake the head of the stalk into a bag every day. Store for up to 3 years.