University of Maryland Extension

Salad Greens

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There are many great salad greens that will grow well in Salad Tables™and Salad Boxes™. Start with the plants you most enjoy and then branch out. Here’s a brief list of some of the crops tested:

Plant familyCrop
Brassicaceaearugula, kale, mustard greens, broccoli raab, mizuna, komatsuna
Compositaeendive, lettuces
Umbelliferaeaparsley, cilantro
Labiateaebasil
Amaranthaceaeleafy amaranth, spinach, Swiss chard, orach
Portulacaceaepurslane

Best results have been obtained with all types of lettuces, endive, arugula, and other members of the Brassicaceae family. Other salad greens germinate and grow more slowly and produce less foliage.

Recommended leaf lettuce cultivars

‘Red Sails’, ‘Salad Bowl’,  ‘Merlot’, ‘Black Seeded Simpson’, ‘Green Deer Tongue’, ‘Red Deer Tongue’, ‘Antares’, ‘Bronze Arrowhead’, Buttercrunch and romaine types of lettuce also performed very well.

Some cultivars we’ve grown and liked…

All cultivar descriptions adapted from FEDCO Seeds, Waterville, ME. You will be cutting most of these plants when they are 4 in. - 8 in. high.

Green leaf lettuce

  • ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ (35 days for baby lettuce) The earliest and most popular loose leaf variety. Large loose crumpled juicy light-green leaves slightly ruffled and blistered. Inner leaves tender and well blanched. Does not stand heat well; plant early.
  • ‘Green Deer Tongue’ (35 days for baby lettuce) Also known as Matchless, this venerable heirloom goes all the way back to the 1740s. One of the only deer tongues you will ever want to see in your garden! Characteristic thick green pointed leaves radiating from a compact center. Slow to go to seed. Has a rich nutty flavor that doesn’t turn bitter.
  • ‘Salad Bowl’ (35 days for baby lettuce) Bright-green frilly notched leaves form compact rosette. Withstands hot weather better than Black Seeded Simpson, but at its best in cool weather and not really a summer standout.

Red Leaf Lettuce

  • ‘Red Sails (49 days) 1985 All-America winner has become almost synonymous with red leaf lettuce. A most attractive large plant with purplish red-splashed leaves, Red Sails is slow to become bitter or bolt, even in heat. 10-16" rosettes serrated with bubbled frills. Lightly crunchy lobes with a good melting texture.
  • ‘Antares’ (35 days for baby lettuce) Shimmery pink and bronze oak leaf shaped leaves. The extra-frilled finely cut bright leaves are colorful and tender, not bitter even in early July.
  • ‘Bronze Arrowhead’ (35 days for baby lettuce) This Arrowhead scores a perfect for form and color, developing a gorgeous oak leaf rosette in a dance of green and bronze. A good variety for baby lettuce salads and cut and come again culture. Very slow to go to seed.
  • ‘Merlot’ (35 days for baby lettuce) Always a standout, its intense burgundy color is the richest we have ever seen. Slow to grow, slow to go to seed, plants aren’t grown for head lettuce but are great for the baby leaves.

Other types of lettuce

  • ‘Buttercrunch’  (35 days for baby lettuce) Called the cucumber of lettuce, it is smooth and soothing with a green refreshing flavor. Soft and tender green leaves. Slow to go to seed, but can be prone to bottom rot if let to grow into maturity.
  • ‘Forellenschluss’(35 days to harvest) Also known as Freckles or Trout Back, a Romaine with delicate taste and texture. Deep green leaves flecked with wine-red splotches distinguish this heirloom. Very buttery tender leaves may be harvested at 4-6" for baby lettuce salads.
  • ‘Hyper Red Rumple Waved’ (35 days for baby lettuce) A really deep red Romaine lettuce. Tastes great with a pleasing texture. Holds for a while in July before succumbing to heat. Good cold tolerance.
  • ‘Jericho’  (35 days for baby lettuce) Bred in Israel’s hot dry climate to stand high temperatures. Jericho is an imposing Romaine. Will create crisp, juicy and unusually sweet leaves.  Grows well into the summer without going to seed.

Other great salad green cultivars

  • ‘Ice-Bred Arugula’ (45 days to harvest) Arugula with more bite.. Cold hearty and full of complex flavor, Brett Grohsgal (St, Mary’s Co., MD farmer) crossed two excellent European heirloom strains in 1989 and has been selecting for cold-hardiness and vigor since.
  • ‘Even’Star American Rapa’ (35 days for baby greens) “A real trooper,” according to breeder Brett Grohsgal, for its speed of growth and sweetness of leaf.   Similar to the Arcadia Broccoli, a vigorous mild-flavored relative of the more well-known kales and collards without the hairy leaves and bitter or pungent taste of most European rapas. This strain, developed in southern Maryland, was selected for strong autumn growth, winter survival, and spring re-growth.
  • ‘Osaka Purple Mustard’ (35 days for baby greens) Striking large purple-streaked green foliage with a zesty flavor that leaves a lingering tingle on the tongue. As the temperatures grow hotter, so do the leaves. A rapid grower, mild and tender when harvested as baby leaves.
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