Oakleaf, a delicious lettuce

Oakleaf lettuce care and tips

Green, red or gold oakleaf lettuce is an easy lettuce to grow, that requires very little space, and is open to everyone, even if you only have a balcony.

On your marks, get set, SOW!

Oakleaf facts, a summary

NameLactuca sativa var. crispa
Type – annual

Height – 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm)
Exposure – full sun, part sun
Soil – ordinary

Harvest – around 6 weeks after sowing

This group of lettuce varieties has thinner, softer leaves that are more palatable than the thicker leaves of common lettuce.

Sowing oakleaf lettuce

Oakleaf lettuce is sown quite early in season, as early as February.

Direct sowing, in rows from February to October depending on the type and species.

  • The earlier you start, the more you’ll need to protect your seedlings with cold frames, garden cloches or tunnels.
  • It is possible to sow directly in the ground as early as May.

As for sowing in the summer, germination is difficult above 70°F (20°C), so favor a cooler spot in the garden, even in the shade eventually…

It is a good idea to sow or plant small quantities of oakleaf lettuce repeatedly, so that you will always have crisp and crunchy lettuce.

In all cases, thin sprouts down to one every 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) as soon as the first leaves appear.

Did you know that salad and lettuce is perfectly suited to growing in pots? You’ll be able to savor it directly from your balcony or terrace.

Planting oakleaf lettuce from store-bought nursery pots

If you wish to avoid the seedling stage, it is often possible to purchase your lettuce in nursery pots with small leaves.

You can plant them in the ground, either in your vegetable patch or in a garden box on a terrace or balcony.

  • Space each plant 12 inches (30 cm) apart and water regularly.
  • Once again, just plant what you need and repeat planting regularly.

Harvesting oakleaf lettuce

Rows of oakleaf lettuceHarvest your lettuce, salads or romaine when their core has reached a good size.

  • When harvesting, no need to remove the roots: each base will sprout new leaves.
  • Best is to use a sharp knife and to slice the head of lettuce at the collar.
    Leave the white portion intact, and new leaves will quickly sprout for further harvest.
  • Water regularly to keep the soil moist.
  • Lettuce must be harvested before it goes to seed.

Don’t dither to harvest your lettuce, because the crunchier, the better!

Growing oakleaf lettuce in winter

It is possible to harvest lettuce all season round, and even during winter.

  • These can be sown from August to October directly in the ground.

As soon as the cold hits, protect your seedlings and plants with a small greenhouse, a tunnel, or any other device that will help your lettuce grow even though temperatures are below freezing, providing as much light as possible.

All there is to know about oakleaf lettuce

Oakleaf lettuce on the left, common lettuce on the rightRather easy to grow, lettuce doesn’t require much care during its entire growth phase, except for light regular watering.

An annual belonging to the Asteraceae family, lettuce doesn’t deliver very energy-laden nutrition, but contains high amounts of water and an excellent omega 3 ratio.

There are also many trace elements, fibers, minerals and vitamins that our bodies require.

  • In a nutshell, remember that lettuce is easy to grow and boasts high nutritional content: great assets for any gardener!

Among the various oakleaf lettuce sub-species you’ll find:

  • ‘Lansai’, a red oakleaf lettuce
  • ‘Panisse’, a green oakleaf lettuce
  • ‘Salad Bowl’, a golden green oakleaf lettuce

Keeping oakleaf lettuce

Even though it doesn’t keep very well, it still is possible to extend its shelf-life a bit longer if you wrap it loosely in a cloth or plastic wrap and store it in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator.

  • But the best path for oakleaf lettuce to follow is the one that goes straight from the garden to your plate!

Smart tip about oakleaf lettuce

Try not to sow too many seeds at once, to avoid overproducing. Better to stage your sowing in time.

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Oakleaf in rows by Gerhard G. under Pixabay license
Light on the mounds by PMAnguita under Pixabay license
Oakleaf vs common lettuce by Vanessa under Pixabay license