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Head lettuce

 
Maureen Atsali
Posts: 236
Location: Western Kenya
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I have never grown head lettuce.  I like leaf lettuce for flavor and texture.  Here in the tropics. I have successfully grown a couple varieties of leaf (mignonette bronze and little jewel, I think) but a cow came and wiped out all of it before I got any seed to save.  I want lettuce, but don't want the expense of importing seeds... So I searched the local agrovets and actually and surprisingly turned up a package of lettuce seed.  But, its head lettuce... According to the picture on the package.  Who the heck grows head lettuce in the tropics

Well, I am going to try! (I am so tired of eating salads made with shredded cabbage.). Does anyone here bother with head lettuce?  My understanding is that they like it cool, and that they don't form heads if it is hot.  I also read that heat makes them bitter.  We are approaching the rainy season, and generally our temps are mild during the rains (70's).   My question is... What would happen if I treat it like a leaf lettuce, and ignore the whole heading thing altogether?  If I get it to grow, could I pluck the outer leaves like leaf?
 
James Freyr
Posts: 76
Location: Middle Tennessee
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I grow lettuces, both head and non-heading, but I'm not in the tropics. Your post made me think of a day several years ago when I went to a friends house and there in the ground next to her house were beautiful big cabbages and broccoli's, in June. I live in the south, outside of Nashville.  Mine had long since been gone and I asked her how she did that and she replied "they're in the shade all day". I'm no expert and will never claim to be, but I suspect that cold weather crops are not only sensitive to atmosphere temperatures, but the temperature of the soil. I gathered from my observations that her cold weather crops hadn't bolted because the soil was still cool. I would absolutely give it a try, and my suggestion is to grow them in the shade. Maybe even try applying cold water from the faucet or a well, even if you're entering the rainy season? Maybe that's futile efforts. Yes I believe that heat makes them bitter. My fall lettuces and spinach being harvested in november and december are sweeter and more delicious than the same varieties grown in the same soil in the spring being harvested in may. As far as removing the outer leaves, sure, give it a try. If everything fails, you have gained knowledge through experience. That's what I love about failure.
 
Maureen Atsali
Posts: 236
Location: Western Kenya
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Thanks James!  I have a shady space in mind for them under bananas.  It only gets sun in the morning hours.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Posts: 1307
Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
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Yes, shade is good. Also, I think you can harvest most head lettuces the same as leaf lettuces - you don't have to wait for them to form a head, you can just harvest individual leaves as you need them. It depends on what kind of head lettuce it is, but I think this would work for most of them.

Good luck!
Tracy
 
Maureen Atsali
Posts: 236
Location: Western Kenya
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I have no idea what type it actually is! The package just days "lettuce" and shows a picture of a head lettuce.  There are no instructions on the package either.  Love Kenya.  I don't have the package handy, but I think it came from the East Africa Seed company.  That's pretty much the biggest and most reputable seed company here... But they still suck.
 
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