Crisphead Iceberg Lettuce
Seed Count: Approx. 500 seeds
Days to Maturity: 70-79 Days
Description: Crisphead Iceberg lettuce grows compact green heads of overlapping leaves. The interior leaves are a paler green, and are sweeter in comparison to its outer leaves, which are darker, more malleable, and great for things like lettuce wraps. The plant grows upright, and is held off the ground without a lot of drooping outer leaves. The iceberg lettuce is one of the most popular lettuce varieties around, for its mildly sweet flavor, crisp leaves, and great shelf life. Iceberg grows best in cooler climates, since it needs a long, cool season to grow its sweet dense heads. They will bolt and grow bitter in the summer, once the heat rolls in. They can be pretty high maintenance, and troublesome to grow, since they are a favorite food for pests like slugs and snails, along with other pests, and require vigilance to prevent any leaf damage.
How To Grow
Sowing: Crisphead Iceberg lettuce grows well in cool weather (45-65 degrees), so the first crop can be direct sown when the soil temperature reaches at least 45 degrees. Direct sow the seed in rich soil and full sun, spreading them as thinly as possible in rows 1-2' apart. You can also start your seeds earlier in cold frames, or indoors, just make sure to harden off your plants before transplanting outdoors. When the seedlings begin to grow, thin or space your plants 12-15" 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. They prefer a loose loomy soil, rich with organic matter.
Growing: Since lettuce has very shallow roots, it needs adequate moisture in order to stay tender and sweet, so keep the soil evenly moist. It is recommended to water iceberg varieties lightly, but often to promote good leaf growth. Just make sure the soil has good drainage to prevent mildew and fungal issues. Applying mulch helps conserve moisture and control weeds. For companion planting benefits, grow lettuce with onions, cucumbers, or carrots. This variety is not heat tolerant by any means, and will bolt when it gets hot. However, lettuces can tolerate cold, but should be protected from the wind. If leaves begin to wilt, plants need more water, and may bolt due to inadequate moisture. Hand weed as necessary, but be careful with their shallow roots.
Harvesting: Iceberg lettuce is ready to harvest when the heads are compact and firm. Lettuce retains its crisp sweetness when harvested early in the morning. To harvest the entire plant, cut it right above the surface of the soil. Use the leaves in wraps, salads, and sandwiches. 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. Under the right conditions, lettuce seeds can be stored for up to 3 years.