Romaine lettuce – Vegetable garden
Romaine lettuce is one of the most popular varieties that grow upright, heat tolerant. It is medium to large in size with an elongated shape and stiff, upright leaves. The thick heads are loosely connected to a central blanched base and the leaves, averaging 4-6 inches in length, are broad with many folds and creases. The outer leaves are dark green with a prominent white central rib, and as the leaves grow smaller in the center, they become paler in color almost fading to white. Romaine lettuce is crisp, succulent, and crunchy with a mild, slightly bitter taste.
The milky liquid produced from the outer leaves was believed to have restorative properties and was used by many ancient healers to reduce symptoms of diseases and illness. Today Romaine lettuce is still a widely used variety and is most popular for its use in the Caesar salad.
Scientific Name: Lactuca sativa L. var. longifolia
Common Names: Romaine lettuce, Romaine, or cos lettuce.
How to care and grow Romaine lettuce?
It thrives best in cooler temperatures, desiring full sun in cool weather and light shade in warmer weather.
It grows well in fertile, well-composted, medium moisture, well-drained, nitrogen-rich soils with a pH of between 6.0 and 6.8.
It prefers optimum temperatures are between 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. When temperatures rise to 75 and 80 degrees, the lettuce plant will try to flower and produce seeds, which is not good if you want to harvest your lettuce. Grow this plant in the cooler months for the best results. Temperatures above 27 °C (81 °F) will generally result in poor or non-existent germination of lettuce seeds.
It grows best with consistent watering throughout the growing season. keep the soil moist but not soggy water. Bitter leaves are an indication of excess heat, over or under watering, and overmaturity.
Lettuce prefers soil that is high in organic material, with plenty of compost and a steady supply of nitrogen to keep if growing fast. Use organic alfalfa meal or a slow-release fertilizer.
Romaine lettuce can be easily propagated from seed. Start seed indoors about 6-8 weeks prior to last spring frost date. Seed may also be planted directly in the ground about 2 weeks prior to the last spring frost date. Additional seed may also be planted in the ground from the last spring frost date to mid-June at two-week intervals for purposes of extending the harvest season. Plant seed in late summer for a fall crop. Also can regrow Romaine lettuce by reusing the plant’s stems.
Pests and diseases
Aphids, flea beetles, slugs, snails, leafminers, and whiteflies are common garden pests found on lettuce plants. You may also have problems with fungal diseases if you water lettuce plants too much.
Romaine requires 65-70 days to mature from seed. Romaine lettuce forms its characteristic mid-rib before harvest, at full size it makes an upright leafy clump. Cut the plant off at soil level with a sharp knife. For an earlier harvest, remove outer leaves when they are 30 days old, but leave the rest of the plant to continue growing to maturity.
Benefits of Romaine lettuce
- Romaine lettuce leaves can be used fresh and torn for salads, or they can be used as a dipping vessel for sauces, dips, and fillings. They can also be layered on sandwiches, burgers, and wraps for added crunch.
- Romaine lettuce is an excellent source of dietary fiber, potassium, biotin, copper, iron, vitamins A, C, and K, thiamin (vitamin B1), folate, iron, potassium, and manganese. It is also a good source of riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.
- Romaine lettuce is suitable for people who wish to lose weight, due to its high nutrient density and low-calorie content.
- It is a good source of vitamins C and A, which are antioxidants. These play a key role in balancing and maintaining many systems in the body. The antioxidant content of romaine lettuce may help support a person’s immune system and protect against various health concerns. The high levels of potassium within romaine lettuce can help maintain cardiovascular health.
- In addition, the antioxidant vitamins A and C in the lettuce may help prevent cholesterol from building up and forming plaque in the arteries.
- It provides both sodium and potassium in healthful proportions. Romaine lettuce is also rich in the heart-healthy mineral potassium.
- The antioxidants and folate within romaine lettuce might help protect the body from cancer.