Salad Bowl lettuce

Do you want to grow some healthy greens in your garden this year? Save a spot for Salad Bowl lettuce!

Salad Bowl lettuce is an heirloom open-pollinated lettuce variety known for its excellent sweet flavor. Well-suited to salads, sandwiches, and wraps, this crisp spring lettuce has an oak leaf shape. It can be grown for baby greens, leaf lettuce, or harvested as whole loose heads. Salad Bowl lettuce takes about 50 days to reach maturity, is slow to bolt in warm temperatures, and stays sweet when the weather gets hot.

Read on to learn all about Salad Bowl lettuce!

Salad bowl green lettuce

Salad bowl lettuce basics

Salad Bowl lettuce is one of the most popular lettuce varieties to grow in the garden. This old favorite has been well-known for decades as sweet-tasting leaf-type lettuce that is easy to grow (even when it gets hot outside).

This leafy variety of lettuce traditionally has classic green leaves, but there is also a popular Red Salad Bowl Lettuce with red leaves. The leaves of this oak leaf lettuce are known for their deep lobes which give them a shape reminiscent of oak leaves.

Salad Bowl Lettuce takes about 45-55 days to grow. It grows most quickly in full sun but can also be grown in partial sun. The plants are compact, growing to about 6″ high. This is a type of leaf lettuce that grows a loose open head rather than a tightly-packed head of lettuce.

Salad bowl green lettuce

Buying seeds for Salad Bowl lettuce

Salad Bowl lettuce seeds are pretty common and can be found online or in your local nurseries. They usually come in packs of about one ounce containing 500 – 1000 seeds.

Planting Salad Bowl lettuce

There are several ways to plant your Salad Bowl lettuce in your garden. You can plant the seeds indoors to grow your own seedlings, purchase seedling plants from the garden center, or plant the seeds directly outdoors from the beginning. As with any planting endeavor, there are pros and cons to each, just choose what works best for your environment.

Salad bowl lettuce - seed starting

Planting lettuce seeds indoors for later transplanting

This is a popular option when people want to get their seedlings started in early spring before the ground might be ready to house them. It also prevents the seedlings from having to compete with weeds outdoors and allows for easier spacing later on (and fewer wasted seeds).

Salad Bowl lettuce seeds are usually sown in trays with one seed per cell about 3-4 weeks before outdoor planting. If you’ve got lots of seeds, put two in each cell and trim off the weaker one after the sprouts emerge.

Planting salad bowl lettuce in the garden

Buying and transplanting lettuce seedlings outdoors

Buying seedlings is the most expensive option. It is also the easiest option because you are able to skip the process of raising your seedlings from the seed stage.

If you choose this option, pay attention to the timing of transplanting based on the climate of your area. Lettuce is somewhat frost tolerant but is usually planted around the local last frost date unless you have a row cover or a cold frame for your garden to protect the seedlings if temperatures dip below freezing.

Salad bowl lettuce seeds

Planting lettuce seeds outdoors

Planting your lettuce seeds outdoors from the start is a cheap and easy choice! Sow the seeds 2″ apart for baby greens, 4″ apart for smaller loose-leaf lettuce, or 8″-12″ apart to harvest whole mature heads. Water well after planting and keep the area well-weeded.

In general, transplanting your lettuce seed is best for gardeners wishing to harvest proper lettuce leaves (3″-6″ long), while direct seeding into the outdoor garden is best for baby lettuce greens.

Growing Salad Bowl lettuce

While trying to figure out the best way to grow your Salad Bowl lettuce, keep some things in mind. Lettuce seeds can germinate in outdoor soil at a soil temperature of 40°-75°F (4°-24°C). The seeds may take a week to germinate so be patient!

Keep the dirt moist and cool so the lettuce seeds can germinate well. Cover the seedlings with a row cover or cloches if temperatures are expected to dip below freezing.

Salad bowl lettuce

How to harvest salad bowl lettuce

Heads of Salad Bowl lettuce are ready to harvest after about 45-55 days. It tends to grow quickly in full sun planting locations and mild temperatures but may take longer when grown in overly cool locations or partially shaded spots.

Any variety of leaf lettuce can be harvested with sharp scissors or a garden harvest knife. To harvest the whole head of lettuce, use a harvest knife to slice the plant right at its base. To harvest individual leaves from your plant, cut them off the outside of the plant with a harvest knife or scissors about 1″ above the soil. The leaves can be harvested when they are small for baby greens or larger (about 4″ long) for full salads.

Head of salad bowl lettuce from the garden

Recipes for Salad Bowl lettuce

One of my favorite ways to enjoy Salad Bowl lettuce is topped with cucumbers and baby tomatoes. Add some dill, onion, olive oil, and a little salt and pepper and you have an amazing warm-weather salad.

Some people like to enjoy their Salad Bowl lettuce with classic Italian dressing. Great creative with your toppings, add your favorite vegetables and even some cheese, and enjoy!

Salad Bowl lettuce is also excellent in sandwiches and wraps.

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a quintessential Canadian gardener. An engineer by trade, she tends to an ever-expanding collection of plants. In her world, laughter blooms as freely as her flowers, and every plant is raised with a dash of Canadian grit.

Mary Jane is a certified Master Gardener and also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. She's also a proud mom of three, teaching her little sprouts the crucial difference between a garden friend and foe.

When she's not playing in the dirt, Mary Jane revels in her love for Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, ice hockey, and the surprisingly soothing sounds of bluegrass covers of classic hip-hop songs. She invites you to join her garden party, a place where you can share in the joy of growing and where every day is a new opportunity to find the perfect spot for yet another plant.

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