While Bibb lettuce is the same species, (Lactuca sativa), as other lettuce varieties, it may just ruin all other lettuces for you.
Bibb lettuce was cultivated in the middle of the 19th century by John M. Bibb, a lawyer, and veteran of the War of 1812. The lettuce, originally called “limestone lettuce,” was eventually renamed for Bibb.
Unfortunately, this amazing lettuce variety remained under the radar for over 50 years until finally, in the early 1900s, it began to be available commercially. Since then, however, its popularity has exploded.
Keep reading to learn more about this delicious and noteworthy vegetable.
Appearance and Taste
Bibb lettuce is a kind of butter lettuce. Butter lettuce varieties are known for their verdant, round, loose leaves and mild yet sweet flavor.
The Bibb variety grows in a ball shape similar to other lettuce varieties but is on the small side and its leaves are softer to the touch.
Also, the circular leaves, when detached from the main ball, are bowl-shaped.
Like other vegetables, Bibb lettuce is mostly water making it a great low-calorie food option. Nevertheless, it still provides some significant nutritional benefits.
One head of this lettuce has a mere 21 calories. These come from 0.4 grams of fat, 1.8 grams of net carbs, and 2.2 grams of protein.
While this lettuce has remarkably few calories, it is packed with micronutrients. One head provides 1.8 grams of fiber, 108% of the recommended daily value (DV) of vitamin A as well as lots of vitamin C, iron, and potassium.
Using Bibb Lettuce in the Kitchen
Tacos are a universally beloved dish. However, for those who are looking for a low-calorie option for lunch, tortillas or taco shells can sneakily jack up the calorie count. With some lettuce, though, you have a much healthier.
Try this recipe for turkey taco lettuce wraps. The delicious yet mild flavor of Bibb lettuce works incredibly to bring out the flavor of the filling.
Salad doesn’t need to be boring if you use the right vegetables. Especially with the right lettuce variety, a salad can turn from a boring diet snack to an elegant, delicious appetizer. For just such a recipe, try this bibb lettuce salad with grilled shrimp.
It can be difficult to get kids to eat lettuce. It can be bland, boring, or even intimidating for some kids. One great way to get kids to start eating lettuce is by putting it in a sandwich. Try using Bibb lettuce in this kid-friendly club sandwich.
Growing Bibb Lettuce
If you’re looking to grow your own Bibb lettuce from home, we’ve got you covered.
When and Where
While many lettuce varieties don’t fare well in the intense summer heat, the Bibb variety is slightly hardier in warmer temperatures. Nevertheless, it does the best and grows quickly in cooler temperatures.
Plant this lettuce early in the season, as soon as the last frost has passed. Alternatively, begin planting in the early fall so as to also avoid the summer heat.
However, if you do choose to plant this lettuce so that it will be growing during the summer months, try to find a place that has partial shade to reduce the risk of overexposure to the sun.
Otherwise, lettuce does fine in full sunlight.
Plant in soil that is nutrient and dense and well-draining. The soil can also be helped with a good nitrogen-dense fertilizer.
The seeds can be sowed directly into the soil, but to get an early jump on the growing season, try starting your lettuce seeds indoors and then transplanting them outside when the soil is workable.
To allow your lettuce enough room to grow, space your seeds or seedlings by roughly a foot. If you’re planting enough to have rows, give yourself enough room between rows to be able to move about. 1.5 to 2 feet of space should be ideal.
Lastly, so that you’re not inundated with more lettuce than you can handle at once, you may want to stagger the planting of your lettuce seeds. Try planting your seeds in batches separated by a period of 5 to 7 days.
When and How to Harvest
Bibb lettuce matures in roughly 55-60 days on average. If you are unable to tell if the lettuce is ready, slice off a leaf and sample it. Use a sharp knife so as not to accidentally uproot it.
If you’d like to harvest the whole head at once, while you may choose to uproot the lettuce ball entirely, slicing it free and allowing the stump to remain can allow it to gain new growth.
You may also find that harvesting in the morning is the best time to do so as the lettuce will likely still retain chill and crisp from the previous night.
Pest and Disease Control
Various bugs may be attracted to your lettuce. Snails, slugs, aphids, and beetles are all possible pests. Be attentive. You can manually pick off and dispose of bugs you find. If you’re concerned about an infestation, try an insecticide.
A mix of a bit of dish soap and water can be very effective without being overly potent. Otherwise, try neem oil.
If you choose to use a pesticide on your lettuce, be sure to wash it very well before eating.
Rabbits also love lettuce. If they’re a problem in your garden, you may want to install a barrier such as wire fencing.
Lettuce Enjoy Our Greens!
Bibb lettuce is truly one of the finest lettuce varieties. It’s soft, buttery, and sweet yet pleasantly mild. It’s healthy and goes great in salads, sandwiches, and so much more.
Plus, it grows quickly and thrives in cooler weather, allowing you to plant it after you’ve already harvested your summer crop.
At Minneopa Orchards, we know all about the tastiest leafy greens that you can grow from home. For further reading on lettuce, check out our lettuce page! In fact, for all your horticultural inquiries, we’ve got you covered. Come check us out!