Is it concerning to see red areas on leaf lettuce? Brown spots need to be removed, but if color is part of a lettuce’s name, it can stay!
Easily grown, Red Leaf Lettuce is a resourceful vegetable that makes a flavorful addition to your diet and health!
Read on to learn about this red-tipped loose-leaf lettuce!
History of Red Leaf Lettuce
About 4,500 years ago, the Egyptians cultivated Red Leaf Lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. crispa), which is believed to have come from wild weeds.
Greeks and Romans began cultivating this lettuce in Europe during the 1300s and 1500s. As of now, it’s a common variety of lettuce in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Red Leaf Lettuce Characteristics
This green, loose-leaf lettuce grows up to 11.8 inches from a small white base that spreads into frilly red or purple edges. The red and purple tint is called anthocyanins.
The lettuce is mild and slightly tart with a moist flavor and silky touch. The redder the lettuce, the more bitter, or even nuttier, it is. It depends on the type of leaf lettuce, though.
Health Benefits of Red Leaf Lettuce
One cup, or 28 grams, of this raw lettuce contains these nutrients:
Dietary fiber: 0.3g
Vitamin A: 1.26mg (beta carotene)
Vitamin K: 0.04mg
Here’s how this lettuce’s four nutrients can benefit your health!
1. Water Content
Red Leaf Lettuce is high in water content, making it a hydrating vegetable that can make you full faster. That, along with its low-calorie count, can help curb overeating and assist in weight loss.
2. Vitamin A
The leaf lettuce’s vitamin A improves your eyesight and maintains the proper functioning of your organs (e.g., kidneys, heart, lungs).
Beta carotene, which is later converted to vitamin A, is one of many antioxidants in this lettuce. It reduces your risks of cancer and other diseases by fighting off unstable molecules.
3. Vitamin K
Vitamin K is abundant in this lettuce, and it helps with bone growth and development. Besides fighting osteoporosis, it’s also shown to stabilize liver cancer and improve the liver’s functions.
Blood clotting is another vitamin K benefit. By eating Red Leaf Lettuce, your vitamin K intake will prevent uncontrolled bleeding.
This lettuce is rich in potassium, which lowers and controls blood pressure by widening your blood vessels. It also helps you maintain a healthy heartbeat.
Adding Red Leaf Lettuce to Your Diet
Before eating or adding Red Leaf Lettuce to a recipe, you’ll need to wash each leaf thoroughly for two reasons:
- Pesticides: The lettuce attracts bugs, so farmers and gardeners spray this lettuce with a lot of pesticides.
- Dirt: The loose leaves make it easy for dirt and other impurities to get in the lettuce head.
Sandwiches, salads, and tacos are the first-choice meals to include Red Leaf Lettuce! Here are a couple of recipes you can try!
Growing Red Leaf Lettuce Plants
Planting Red Leaf Lettuce is no different from planting green lettuce! And it’s easy to grow at home! Let’s go over what you need to know.
When to Plant
The best time to plant the lettuce is in the spring or fall during cool weather—between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you plant it in the summer, use shade to partially cover the lettuce. Sunlight is vital, but extreme heat will make the leaves tear or wilt easily.
You can plant your lettuce in a pot indoors if it’s the last month of winter. Once mid- to late spring arrives, switch it from the pot to your yard.
Check your soil’s pH level with a soil test kit for a number between 6.2 to 6.8 pH. Make sure the soil is loose and drains well, clear away weeds and debris, and add in some compost.
The seeds should be at least a half to a quarter-inch deep. The rows are to be 12 to 18 feet apart, and the plants should be four inches from each other.
Water your Red Leaf Lettuce plant frequently and consistently. Be sure to water lightly to ensure the soil is moist.
The time to harvest depends on your preference and when you want the lettuce. It could be 30 days, six to eight weeks, or when the leaves are at a decent size.
When harvesting, cut out the whole plant or part of it from a few inches above the soil. By doing the latter option, the lettuce will regrow so you can harvest it two to three times a year!
After buying or harvesting Red Leaf Lettuce, you’ll need to store it if you don’t eat it immediately. Before you do, remove any slimy heads and wilted leaves.
Wrap the lettuce in loose paper towels and place it in a produce bag or an airtight container. Keep it away from fruits so their natural gases won’t make them wilt fast!
Now, leaf lettuce may last about three to four days in the fridge’s crisper drawer. So you’ll need to plan when you want to eat it before it’s no longer fresh!
Protecting Your Red Leaf Lettuce Plant
Aphids are threats to leaf lettuce—snails, slugs, and caterpillars, too. By sucking out the leaves’ nutrients or eating roots and seedlings, they inflict damage or spread diseases.
To counter these pests, spray an insecticide like neem oil, set up barriers, or hand-pick the creatures from the lettuce.
Tipburn is a condition that browns and curls the lettuce when there’s a lack of moisture. Simply take off the brown areas and add water as needed.
Sooty mold is the result of aphids excreting honeydew on the leaves, making them look sooty. To treat your lettuce, remove the pests and wash off the mold.
Where to Buy Red Leaf Lettuce
You can find this lettuce at retailers like Meijer and Walmart. However, some types of it are considered heirloom lettuce, so farmers’ markets will have it if stores don’t.
If you want to grow leaf lettuce yourself, check out True Leaf Market to find your Red Leaf Lettuce seeds today!
Leaf Room for Some Red Leaf Lettuce!
With Red Leaf Lettuce, you’re eating not only your greens but also your reds! Easy to grow and versatile for meals, even after harvesting, this vegetable keeps on giving!
Read up on Lettuce Plants to learn about more varieties and what you can do with them!