Salad and Leafy Vegetables: Lettuce, Spinach and Arugula

With dozens of leafy salad vegetable varieties to choose from, the right selection means the difference between success and disappointment. Use this guide to determine which lettuce, spinach and arugula will suit you best.
From: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Vegetable Gardening

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Lettuce ‘Sangria’

This butterhead type matures to form a loose heart with soft leaves, and a pretty red flush that will brighten up a salad. Easy to grow and quick to mature, it does well in poorer soil and has some resistance to mildew.

Sow: Early spring to late summer
Harvest: Late spring to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Lettuce ‘Freckles’

This semi-cos variety forms an open head with green leaves that are spectacularly splattered with red. A good choice for flower borders, where it matures quickly. Plants are slow to bolt, even in warm weather.

Sow: Early spring to late summer
Harvest: Late spring to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Lettuce ‘Tom Thumb’

A gardeners’ favorite, this compact, green, butterhead lettuce rapidly forms dense, sweet-tasting hearts. Ideal for small gardens because it can be planted at high densities and is ready for harvest quickly.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Late spring to early fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Lettuce ‘Little Gem’

This cos lettuce is familiar from the supermarket shelves, but is even crisper and sweeter if you grow it yourself. Its diminutive size makes it perfect for small gardens, and it is one of the fastest-cropping cos types.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Late spring to early fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Lettuce ‘Delicato’

Loose leaf lettuces are the quickest and easiest to grow, either as cut-and-come-again baby leaves or for harvesting whole when mature. This deep red oakleaf variety has a pleasant flavor.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Mid-spring to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Lettuce ‘Catalogna’

A tasty, green, oakleaf lettuce that you will not want to forget to sow successionally all through summer. The tender leaves have a fine flavor and the non-hearting plants are slow to bolt, should they get the chance.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Mid-spring to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Lettuce ‘Lollo Rossa-Nika’

The red leaves of this frilled lettuce are so dark as to be almost purple and are incredibly ornamental as well as appetizing. Young leaves taste sweet, and, although they turn bitter as they grow, the curled heads look fabulous.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Late spring to midsummer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Lettuce ‘Challenge’

Crisphead lettuces are similar to the iceberg types. This reliable variety forms large, solid hearts of crunchy leaves and performs well when sown early and late under cloches. Good resistance to mildew and bolting.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Late spring to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Lettuce ‘Sioux’

A pretty red-tinged iceberg variety, with leaves that intensify in color in warmer weather, giving the plants good ornamental qualities that are so valuable in small gardens. Perfect color and crunch for salads.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Early summer to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Spinach ‘Perpetual Spinach’

Not a true spinach, but spinach beet, with a taste similar to Swiss chard. It is easy to grow because it rarely runs to seed, even in dry conditions. Succulent green leaves are produced prolifically and crops can be gathered all winter.

Sow: Mid-spring to midsummer
Harvest: Anytime
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Spinach ‘Tetona’ F1

A high-yielding spinach producing a profusion of rounded dark green leaves. This is the perfect variety for sowing as a cut-and-come-again crop to produce baby leaves for salads, but it can also be left to mature.

Sow: Early spring to late summer
Harvest: Late-spring to Late-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Arugula ‘Apollo’

This cultivated variety has large, rounded, green leaves and a strong peppery flavor without any bitterness. The plant is easy to grow as a cut-and-come-again crop in pots or in the ground. Water well in hot weather.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Mid-spring to mid-fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade