Red Oak leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is a vibrant, easy to grow lettuce with a delicious sweet flavour. Harvest young as baby leaves, use as a cut and come again crop or harvest the whole head. Here is how I grow mine…
This post may Contain Affiliate links please see my disclosure policy
Oak Leaf Lettuce History
Oak Leaf lettuce has been cultivated since at least the 6th century BC. It is known as one of the oldest Lettuce varieties, believed to be first grown by the ancient Egyptians. The Egyptians mainly cultivated the crop for the seeds, as they were useful for producing oils. The leaves were also utilised as a useful vegetable accompaniment.
To the Egyptians the Oak Leaf lettuce represented far more than a crop for consumption, they also regarded it as sacred, believing it to be a gift from the Egyptian god Min. Min was the god of fertility and harvest and his gifts embodied the masculine principle.
Oak Leaf Lettuce was later cultivated by the Greeks and then the ancient Romans, whom were credited with bringing it to European lands.
Health Benefits Of Oak Leaf Lettuce
Oak Leaf Lettuce has an extremely low calorie content and a high water volume and is a very nutritious food. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, which is wonderful for eye health, it also has high amounts of flavonoids and other antioxidants, which can help protect the body against excessive inflammation and reduce the risk of frequent colds and infections.
Studies also showed that Oak Leaf Lettuce helped those who suffer with High Cholesterol, observing a noticeable reduction in LDL cholesterol levels.
Red Oak Leaf Lettuce Characteristics
Red Oak leaf lettuce have elongated, loosely serrated leaves resembling oak leaves. The dark burgundy leaves form a partly loose rosette, growing upwards and outwards.
Red Oak Leaf Lettuce Taste
Red Oak Leaf Lettuce has a Nutty, sweet taste with a buttery texture. Include leaves in Sandwiches, add to salads or use as a garnish.
How To Grow Oak Leaf lettuce
Whether you are growing Red Oak Leaf Lettuce Or Green Oak Leaf Lettuce the growing Instructions are the same.
Buy Red Oak Leaf Lettuce Seeds
Buy Green Oak Leaf Lettuce Seeds
Oak Leaf Lettuce has Loose leaves and so does not form a compact head, the delicate leaves grow from a central stalk and usually reach maturity around 50-55 days after germination. They can be sensitive to excessive heat, which can result in wilting leaves and bolting so keep an eye on this.
How To Sow Oak Leaf Lettuce Seeds
- Sow Indoors -February-April
- Fill Pots, modules or a tray with compost, sprinkle seeds on the surface and cover with a light sprinkling of compost.
- Place on a sunny Windowsill, Water and cover with a propagator lid or cling wrap, remove once seedlings emerge.
- Once large enough to handle prick out and pot on into individual modules or pots.
- Oak Leaf lettuce is a Hardy Plant so can be planted outside once the ground can be worked. Just be sure to harden off indoor grown plants first.
- Space plants 6″ apart, with 10″ between rows.
What Does Hardening Off Mean?
Plants raised indoors or in a greenhouse environment, need to be acclimatised to cooler temperatures and increased air movement for about two to three weeks before they are planted outdoors permanently . This is a ‘toughening up’ practice to prepare the plants for their new environment.
How to Harden Off
Place your plants out for a couple of hours in a shady part of the garden. The next day, leave them out again for two hours, but this time allow the plants an hour of direct sunshine in the morning. Gradually continue to increase the length of time the plants are in direct sunshine over the course of roughly two weeks.
- Sow Outdoors-March-May and again in September for an Autumn Harvest
- Sow in shallow drills and water, once seedlings are large enough to handle, thin out to 10-12 inches apart
- For a constant supply sow every 3 weeks
Where to Plant Oak Leaf Lettuce
Plant Oak leaf lettuce in a sunny to part shade spot, in a well-drained, cool, loose soil.
Keep the soil moist. You can also mulch to retain moisture and suppress any weeds. Water lightly but consistently.
Best fertiliser For Oak Leaf Lettuce
Adding fertiliser to the soil can help promote a faster growth. I find the fish emulsion type fertilisers are the best to use for this Variety of lettuce, as the higher nitrogen fertilisers can cause the leaves to become bitter.
When To Harvest Oak Leaf Lettuce
Like many other Lettuce varieties Oak Leaf Lettuce can be harvested as microgreens, baby greens, cut and come again mature leaves, or you can harvest the entire head! The Best Time to harvest lettuce, regardless of stage is early in the day before the heat of the sun wilts the leaves.
When to Harvest Microgreens – Microgreens can be harvested as soon as 2 weeks after germination when they are around 3-4 inches tall. (For microgreens I simply scatter lettuce seeds in a tray of compost, let them grow and chop them as I need them-like cress)
When To Harvest Baby Greens-Smaller ‘Baby Green’ leaves are ready around 30-35 days after germination
When To Harvest ‘Cut and Come again’ Mature leaves– Mature leaves can be harvested any time, simply cut away the outer leaves as you need them and the lettuce plant will regrow
When To Harvest Entire Oak Leaf Lettuce Plants– They can be harvested from mid-development onwards. A looseleaf Variety like Oak leaf lettuce can be harvested many times during the growing season- simply cut the lettuce 1 inch above soil level so the the plant can regenerate
Want To Grow A Vegetable Garden?
Have a look at my DIY Greenhouse , DIY Potting shelter and Potting Shed and have a gander at these ‘How To’ Veggie Posts…
Looking For more ‘Homely’ Inspo ?
Have a Nosey Around the Blog! See what i’ve been Baking, Growing and Drinking! Also, pop over and say Hi on Instagram
*Any specific health claim or nutritional claims or information provided on the Website are for informational purposes only. Nothing on the Website is offered or intended to be a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This Website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You assume full responsibility for consulting a qualified health professional regarding health conditions or concerns.