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Vegetable Gardening in Mississippi

Lettuce

Both leaf and head lettuce grow well in Mississippi gardens in spring and fall. Leaf lettuce is more cold hardy, faster maturing, more shade tolerant, and a few varieties are more heat tolerant than head lettuce.

Start plants in a cold frame in late winter or early spring for transplant-ing to the garden, or sow seeds directly in the garden. Head lettuce seeds sown directly in the garden in very early spring make a good crop if May is a relatively cool month. Remember, garden head lettuce doesn’t have to form a solid head before being harvested and used.

Lettuce transplants easily, and plants with plenty of growing space develop more quickly than those in the crowded seed row. Thin leaf lettuce to at least 4 inches apart, butterhead bibb types to 6 inches apart, and crisp head types to 10 to 12 inches apart.

All types of lettuce are relatively heavy feeders and need high nitrogen fertility. Because the root system is small and shallow, keep soil moist to promote rapid, constant growth. Lettuce does not grow well in hot weather without plenty of moisture, and even then it may become tough and bitter and go to seed.

Varieties

Crisp head types

  • Great Lakes—medium-sized; solid head; large, dark green wrapper leaves; slow bolting; frost resistant; resistant to tip burn; AAS 1944.

Leaf types

  • Black Seeded Simpson—old variety; large, upright plant; light green leaves; heavily frilled.
  • Grand Rapids—old popular home garden variety; large, erect, compact leaves; light green; wavy.
  • Prize Head—early; curled and frilly; outer leaves reddish-brown, inner leaves medium green.
  • Red Sails—deep bronzy-red ruffled leaves; attractive; slow to bolt; AAS 1952.
  • Salad Bowl—slow to bolt; large, upright leaves; light green; deeply notched; AAS 1952.
  • SloBolt—long-standing Grand Rapids type.

Butterhead types

  • Butternut Crunch—long standing bibb type; dark green outside leaves; AAS 1963.