Back to Basics

The best of the best from the 2011 OG Test Gardens.

By Doug Hall

Photography by Christa Neu



  • ‘Blushed Butter Oak’ (looseleaf)
  • ‘Tom Thumb’ (butterhead)
  • ‘Anuenue’ (Batavian)

An assortment of tender lettuces keeps the salad bowl interesting. ‘Blushed Butter Oak’ (bottom, John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds) adds bronze tones with its wavy leaves; ‘Tom Thumb’ (center, The Natural Gardening Company) forms perfect single-serving heads; and ‘Anuenue’ (top, Fedco Seeds) is notable for its heat tolerance.

Growing tip: Test gardener Debbie Leung, of Olympia, Washington, thins her direct-seeded rows of lettuce diligently—without wasting a single seedling. “If the lettuce seed is planted somewhat thickly, there are plenty of thinnings to eat,” she says. “I thin first to 2 or 3 inches apart. Then when the remaining seedlings get crowded, I thin them to 4 to 6 inches, and maybe repeat again until they can grow to full-sized heads.” At every stage, from delicate microgreens to nearly mature heads, the thinnings are deliciously edible.