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The crinkly, colorful crispheads.

CRINKLY, CRISP, AND often colorful, Batavian lettuce combines the best characteristics of looseleaf and iceberg types.

Handsome textured leaves give young Batavian (a type of crisphead) lettuce the look of a looseleaf type. But as a Batavian matures, it forms a small head similar to that of an iceberg lettuce, with crunchy ribs. Yet a Batavian is much more flavorful and less watery than iceberg, and its deep green (sometimes burgundy-tinged) leaves are full of vitamins.

You won't find Batavian lettuce in the grocery store because it doesn't ship and store well. If you want to enjoy its crunchy-sweet flavor, you'll have to grow it from seed.

But since Batavian lettuce is easy to grow this way, it's ideal for home gardens. Now is the time to order and start seeds, so seedlings will be ready to go in the ground when the weather cools.

Inland, planting may not start until early October.

CHOOSE APPLE GREEN OR BURGUNDY RED

Batavian lettuce is as ornamental as it is tasty. It even looks handsome mixed with flowers in a flower bed. Try an apple green variety such as |Centennial', |Reine des Glaces, (shown), or |Victoria', or a burgundy-tinged type such as |Rosy', |Rouge Grenobloise', or |Sierra, (all shown below). All of these varieties do well when planted in fall and spring.

|Anuenue', |Centennial', |Nevada', |Sierra', |Verano', and |Victoria' are noted for their heat tolerance and bolt resistance. They also can be grown successfully in summer near the coast, but they probably won't stand up to high temperatures in inland areas.

START SEEDS IN FLATS OR CELL-PACKS

Fill containers with potting soil or a mixture of potting soil and perlite. Place seeds on top of premoistened soil (about four seeds per inch in flats, one or two seeds per cell-pack), press in, and cover with about 1/4 inch of soil.

Place containers in bright light but not in direct sun. Keep the soil constantly moist but not soggy. Soon after seeds germinate, thin them to about an inch apart. Fertilize lightly with a seed-starting fertilizer.

When seedlings are about 2 inches tall, slowly introduce them to stronger light to harden them off, then plant them 8 inches apart in the garden. If the weather is warm, you may want to protect the tender seedlings with shade-cloth or pieces of wood. Fertilize weekly with fish emulsion or other fertilizer (follow label directions).

Check regularly for aphids, slugs, and snails. Control aphids with a spray of insecticidal soap. Pick off slugs and snails at night or ring plants with finely ground diatomaceous earth.

You can harvest outer leaves as plants grow or wait for heads to develop.

WHERE TO BUY LETTUCE SEED

You probably won't find Batavian lettuces at a nursery. The following sources sell seeds of several varieties, but one catalog may not carry all of the ones mentioned here.

The Cook's Garden, Box 535, Londonderry, Vt. 05148; (802) 824-3400. Catalog $1. Listed as spring lettuce.

Johnny's Selected Seeds, 310 Foss Hill Rd., Albion, Maine 04910; (207) 437-4301. Catalog free. Sold as summer crisp lettuce.

Ornamental Edibles, 3622 Weedin Court, San Jose, Calif. 95132. Catalog $2.

Shepherd's Garden Seeds, 6116 Highway 9, Felton, Calif. 95018; (408) 335-5311. Catalog $1.
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Title Annotation:lettuce
Author:Swezey, Lauren Bonar
Publication:Sunset
Date:Aug 1, 1993
Words:536
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