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Advantages of Growing Mini-head Lettuce

Potato soup with mini butterhead lettuce.

Potato soup with mini butterhead lettuce.

I started growing my lettuce indoors long ago just because it was a novelty gardening idea and made a nice center piece on my table.  These days I grow lettuce indoors for different reasons:

First, I grow lettuce indoors because I have a sky light in my kitchen which makes it an ideal growing environment in terms of light.  Additionally, I grow lettuce indoors because it just looks nice to have lots of green in an all white kitchen and it is very convenient when cooking to just have fresh lettuce any time I want it.

Then there is the e-coli scare factor — if I’m growing my own lettuce I know where it came from and how it was handled.  Add escalating food prices and poor quality in the supermarkets produce departments and the ease of growing lettuce (indoors or outside) together and you suddenly have a host of good reasons to grow your own lettuce. Besides the above reasons, lettuce is one of the easiest vegetable plants to grow. So I will confess I grow it both inside and outdoors. This year I’m doing my lettuce a little different - I’m growing mini-lettuces.

Rows of baby lettuce - Source: Nick Smith Creative     Commons via Wikimedia Commons

Rows of baby lettuce - Source: Nick Smith Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons

Lately I favor growing mini-head lettuce.  Actually most varieties of lettuce can be “mini” head lettuces just simply by planting them closer together and picking them early.  It would surprise many gardeners to know that mini-head lettuce varieties have distinct advantages in terms of providing a sweeter, more tender and flavorful lettuce, and just looks so much better visually. Other hidden advantages are:

Mini-head lettuces take up less space in the garden

  • Salads made from them are more colorful
  • Have a shorter harvest period
  • Have better flavor
  • Ideal for smaller families, single people, and just couples
  • Less waste  

Four of my favorite recommended varieties of these mini-lettuces are: 

  • Concept - An attractive mini-lettuce that tastes both juicy and like a mixture of a romaine and a green leaf this petite whorl lettuce is quite the conversation piece when it comes to growing it indoors. It’s a tad longer in growing to maturity though, a full fifty-one days on average.
  • Dancine - A newcomer in the lettuce varieties and a baby in terms of size (about the size of a baseball) this is the perfect lettuce for patio growing, container growing, or even growing indoors. Forty-three days to maturity.
  • Magenta - Formerly known as Sierra variety, this is an improved lettuce with delightful red edged leaves,whorled head, but with a green heart.  It’s a favorite of mine to plant in the spring and throughout the summer as it is very tolerant to heat, bolting, bottom rot, and other lettuce problems. Only forty-eight days to maturity.
  • Winter Density - (aka Craquerelle du Midi or Craquante D’Avignon) Twenty-eight days to mini-size, fifty-four days to full size.  This is a unique bibb-romaine variety of lettuce.  Best for salads.  Can be grown all year round except in really cold climates.

Know Your Types of Lettuce

Romaine Lettuce - Dept of Ag photo, Public Domain via Wikimedia CommonsButterhead (aka Boston or Bibb Lettuce) - Considered among the best of eating in terms of lettuce this type of lettuce has ruffled outer leaves.

Iceberg lettuce - Among the crispest of lettuce in terms of flavor for best bite it is America’s favorite just because we love it in our sandwiches, salads, and on our hamburgers.

Leaf lettuce - Loved by gardeners due to how easy it is to grow them and loved by cooks because you can pick your leaf lettuce as needed. 

Summer Crisp - More known as French lettuce, this variety is sweet and juicy and my personal favorite in terms of lettuce.

If You’d Like To Know More About Growing Lettuce Indoors!

Grow A Quick Crop of Lettuce Indoors

Growing With Plants