Every spring, when garden centers are a mad rush of customers filling their wagons with vegetable, herb and bedding plants, I wonder why so many gardeners try to put in their entire garden in just one weekend when succession planting provides better yields and an extended harvest. For example, if you like fresh greens and leafy vegetables throughout the season, planting smaller batches of seed or starter plants, at 2- to 4-week intervals will give you a continual source of leafy greens to harvest. Whereas planting row after row of leafy greens in one weekend will give you too many crops to harvest, store or use in a short time.
Certain plants are better for succession plantings than others, though, like lettuce. The quick maturation and cool season preference oftentimes allow you to start planting earlier in the spring and later in the summer. Unfortunately, if you live in a region with hot summers, you know that many of these crops have a tendency to bolt in the midsummer heat. However, some crop varieties, such as Winter Density lettuce, boast the ability to withstand the heat of summer and grow fresh heads of lettuce all season long. Click here to learn more perks of growing Winter Density lettuce.
Winter Density Information
Winter Density lettuce (Latuca sativa), also known as Craquerelle du Midi, is a cross between butterhead lettuce and romaine lettuce. Its flavor is described as sweet and crisp, like butterhead lettuce. It produces an upright head, similar to romaine lettuce, about 8 inches (20 cm.) tall, of dark green, slightly curled, tight leaves. When mature, the heads sit high upon the stems, making them easily harvested.
Not only does winter density lettuce withstand summer heat better than other lettuces, it also is known to tolerate cold and frost. In regions that do not experience a hard freeze in winter, it is possible to grow Winter Density lettuce as a winter sown vegetable. Seeds can be sown every 3-4 weeks starting in early fall for winter harvest.
However, keep in mind that frost tolerance means only that the plant can survive some exposure to frost, as too much of this exposure can damage or kill Winter Density lettuce plants. If you live in frost prone regions, you may still be able to grow Winter Density lettuce through the winter in cold frames, greenhouses or hoop houses.
How to Grow Winter Density Lettuce Plants
Grown from viable seed, Winter Density lettuce plants can be harvested as baby lettuce in about 30-40 days. Plants mature in approximately 55-65 days. Like most lettuce, the seed of Winter Density lettuce requires cool temperatures to germinate.
Seeds can be sown directly in the garden, every 2-3 weeks, about 1/8 inch deep. Winter Density plants are usually grown in rows about 36 inches (91 cm.) apart with plants spaced about 10 inches (25 cm.) apart.
They grow best in full sun but can be placed near the feet of taller garden plants for some shading against the intense afternoon sun.