Lettuce Winter Gardening

Lettuce – An Oak Leaf Variety You Might Want to Try and Why

How many varieties of lettuce do you plant each year? If you’re new to gardening you might just think lettuce is lettuce so why plant more than one kind.

I have a hand full of lettuces that I consider a “must grow” each year. Some are favorites for taste, some for beauty, and some because they endure the cold (with protection). Others are grown because I know they’ll probably do well at times most varieties might not be producing bountifully. In other words, they’re my backups.

Such is an oakleaf lettuce.

I usually try a new variety of that type each year to find one I consider the best.

Some characteristic has to make it stand out to me in order for me to really want to grow it again.

With Bronze Arrow Oakleaf,  it was the beauty of the plant that made it rise above other oakleaf varieties I’d tried.

Couple of years ago I ordered Royal Oakleaf and Italienisher Oakleaf from Fedco, said to be the best of the best in Oak Leaf lettuces. I grew them both and they did what they were suppose to so I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to ’em.

And Then Fall Came.

In the fall I plant primarily for taste and dependability keeping in mind that some do better in winter than others.

On a whim I put in Italienisher Oak Leaf.  Really thought it would be one of the first to succumb to the cold even with protection.

Boy Was I Surprised!

Although our winter was not as severe as it could have been, we still had enough cold temperatures to give Italienisher an opportunity to prove itself.

Usually when I harvest lettuce I pick a few leaves from various plants, but these were so beautiful — especially before the other lettuces were not yet big enough to pick — I couldn’t resist cutting the entire head at the base. Not only did it do well, but it’s regrown small but dense and perfect heads 3 times already this winter.

The second and third head are smaller than the ones first grown but they’re dense and delicious.

Italienisher and mache and a weed or two. February 19th.

Just so you’ll know: I use row cover fabric over the concrete reinforcing wire frame for the first layer of protection when temperatures are 28º F to 32ºF. When it gets colder, one to two layers of plastic are added on top of the fabric and then secured with bricks.

Final Thought

You might want to try some Italienisher Oak Leaf this spring. And while you’re harvesting and tasting, imagine yourself having it all winter next year. 🙂

Related Posts:

Lettuce Varieties to Keep You Eating All Year – Or at Least 10 Months

Lettuce – Favorites – Tips – Several Sources


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  • You my dear are an awesome gardener! I do some similar things as you, lots of varieties etc and what I love about your blog is your willingness to share your new discoveries and ideas!

  • Dang it, Theresa – I don’t do much with lettuce and now you’ve got me going. I typically only grow Romaine. And as the laziest gardener in the world, I cannot be bothered to mess with row covers when it gets cold, so I have to buy my lettuce in the winter. This year I am putting in a greenhouse, and one of the express purposes is to grow lettuce year around. Bookmarking this post for when I get it done. No more store bought lettuce for me!!

  • That lettuce looks beautiful, Theresa. I am looking forward to fresh spring lettuce. All my overwintered lettuce has been nibbled to nubbins. We’re ready for the new crop. I have just checked jugs and that Deer Tongue lettuce seed from years ago that you gave me has germinated very well.

    I had success this year overwintering everything – I know it was not as bad as it could have been, but still I’m pleased – I do it a little differently.
    First a layer of frost fabric is attached to the insides of the wire with clothes pegs. It is a rectangle that just hovers a couple of inches above the plants. Then I drape more frost fabric over top just like you describe. I did not do any plastic this year at all.
    As I don’t always have time to run out to remove the plastic in the mornings when things get warmed up, I think that the breathable row cover has worked better for me.

  • I would like to order your new book on seed starting which you quote as 14.97 for this week. When I put in in the cart it comes up as 19.97. Please advise

  • Mary, thanks so much for letting me know of the confusion. The post telling all about the Seed Starting piece was posted prior to release in March of 2016. Thus, the prerelease price was good only until release of the publication as explained in the post. I’ve gone back in and made a note to clarify.
    Thanks again. Was good to hear from you after such a long time.

  • Thanks for letting me know your feelings Gaye. I think in this day and age, someone needs to be sharing how easy gardening is. Hopefully, it will help many.

    Kate, if I could get nutrient dense and good tasting lettuce in the store, I might be tempted as well. But I’ve never been able to find it anywhere but my garden. 🙂

    Sandra, great input. I have some things to add to what you said, but will wait until I can do a post on your comment and mine.


  • Oh Theresa! I ordered all of the lettuce seed that you liked as well as a couple of “catchy” named ones. (Who could resist a lettuce called ‘Drunken Woman’??? And the picture of it was stunning!)

    Alfred asked, “Why in the world would you order so many lettuces?” My answer, “Because we are going to be eating A LOT of salads and I don’t think YOU want to pay the price for that much organically grown lettuce!”

    He never said another word!

    I think I saw a couple of veggies in Fedco that I didn’t get into the last order….hmmm… one more lettuce won’t break the bank. This is the first time in my life I have a reason to look forward to winter! I can’t wait to see what grows here in winter! He’s already promised to have the concrete reinforcement wire tunnels ready. (I asked for that for Valentine’s Day.)

    Also, I warned him that if he mentioned 10-10-10 to me again – HE would be buying all of the organic produce for my vitamin shakes this winter!! He will be good, I’m sure! Have a great day!

    God Bless You,

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