Looking for a gourmet old-fashioned lettuce variety? Black Seeded Simpson lettuce is a must in your garden!
Black Seeded Simpson lettuce is an open-pollinated heirloom loose-leaf lettuce variety known for its outstanding flavor. The light green ruffled leaves have a crinkly appearance and a crisp texture. A favorite for over a hundred years, this variety is easy to grow, resistant to disease, and takes only 45 days to grow to maturity in the garden.
Read on for more information about Black Seeded Simpson lettuce!
Black-Seeded Simpson lettuce basics
Black Seeded Simpson lettuce is a leaf-type cultivar that produces light green leaves that are very wide and a bit curly. When fully grown, this cultivar of lettuce is extremely productive. It has proven to be resistant to the elements as well as infestation, making it a great crop to grow.
While many varieties of lettuce are head lettuce, this variety is looser and leafier in habit. It is early to mature and has a buttery texture and sweet flavor. It is also an open-pollinated plant with bright green leaves that are beautiful to look at. The frilly leaves are a tasty addition to any salad.
Black Seeded Simpson lettuce grows in a wide array of climates but is quick to bolt in warmer climates in late spring. This variety is best grown in the spring or the fall in most climates as it can become bitter during hot summer weather.
Buying seeds for Black-seeded Simpson lettuce
Black Seeded Simpson lettuce seeds can be found online or in your local nurseries. They generally come in packs of about one ounce containing a few hundred seeds.
Planting Black-Seeded Simpson lettuce
There are several ways to plant Black Seeded Simpson lettuce. Plant the seeds indoors, buy seedling plants, or sow the seeds outdoors from the start. There are pros and cons to each method, but they all work!
Planting lettuce seeds indoors for later transplanting
Seeds starting indoors is a popular option when people want to get their seedlings started in early spring before the ground might be ready to house them. You also get more control over the spacing. There’s no need to thin (and waste seeds), and the seedlings don’t have to compete with weeds while they’re in their baby phase.
You can get things started quickly and in a controlled environment before transplanting the seedlings outside. Once it is time to transport your crops, things become a little more labor-intensive because you have to physically move and transplant each plant.
Lettuce seeds are most commonly sown in seedling trays about 3-4 weeks before they are to be transplanted outdoors. Sow one seed per cell unless you have lots of seeds. If you have excess seeds, sow two per cell and then trim off the weaker seedling with scissors so that only the strongest remains.
Transplant out into the garden at 8″-12″ spacing. The transplants should be hardened off for 7-10 days at the end of their inside period. Cover the newly transplanted seedlings if frost is forecasted.
Buying lettuce seedlings/transplants
Buying lettuce seedlings is more expensive from the beginning because seedlings are more costly than seeds. This is an easy planting option because you are able to forego the process of raising your seedlings from the seed. You just have to know how to help them thrive once transplanted into the ground. Space them 8″-12″ apart in the garden and water thoroughly after planting.
Planting lettuce seeds outdoors
Leaf lettuce like Black Seeded Simpson is easy to direct seed into outdoor soil. They can be sown outside about a month before the last frost date (as long as the soil has thawed), and then sown every couple of weeks throughout spring and late summer for a steady supply of greens during cooler weather.
Start by making sure the soil is moist and clear of weeds. Rake the soil surface flat. For baby greens sow a row of seeds. For full-sized leaves, sow 1-3 seeds every 8″-12″ (and thin later on to only one seed per planting location).
The seeds are quite tiny and will germinate on the surface, but are usually covered with a tiny bit of soil to about ⅛” deep. The seeds usually take 5-10 days to sprout in spring conditions.
Growing Black-Seeded Simpson lettuce
Once your seeds or seedings are planted, the most important part of growing Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce is to keep the soil moist. Moist soil will encourage germination and root growth, helping the young seedlings become well-established in the soil. Water on a consistent basis with a gentle water breaker nozzle or with drip irrigation.
Lettuce plants can be fertilized with organic fertilizer if grown in nutrient-deficient soil. You’ll also want to pull out any weeds that appear to keep them from competing with the lettuce for sun, water, and nutrients.
How to harvest Black-Seeded Simpson lettuce
Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce is usually ready to harvest within 45 days or less! Leaf lettuce is usually harvested with sharp scissors or a garden harvest knife.
The leaves can be harvested when they are small for baby greens or larger (4″ long) for salads. To harvest individual leaves, cut them off the outside of the plant with a harvest knife or scissors about 1″ above the soil. To harvest the whole head of lettuce, use a harvest knife to slice off the plant at the base.
Recipes for Black-Seeded Simpson lettuce
Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce makes fantastic salads! Top your lettuce with goat cheese, walnuts, and your favorite dressing for an amazing spring or summer salad. You can also add it to sandwiches, wraps, and other year-round meals.