Red Tango Leaf Lettuce
Seed Count: Approx. 500 seeds
Days to Maturity: 35 days for baby lettuce; 55 days for mature lettuce
Description: Red Tango Leaf Lettuce is characterized by curled, frilly, red, serrated leaves that grow on tight erect heads. This variety is perfect for adding texture, volume, and color to your salad mixes. It is stronger, spicier, and tangier in taste compared to the green tango leaf variety. Baby leaves are ready to eat in 35 days; mature leaves are ready in 55 days. It grows great in full sun or partial shade, and also makes for a great container plant. It's also one of my favorite varieties to grow in my tower garden.
How To Grow
Sowing: Lettuce grows well 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 10-12" 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 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. 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.