Dressed simply with a little champagne vinegar and tarragon, Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce makes the perfect springtime salad. With seeds that resemble sesame seeds, this distant relative of the daisy yields sweet, tender leaves about six weeks after planting. Black Seeded Simpson lettuce is high in fiber and an excellent source of potassium, folic acid and vitamins. Cut leaves will keep well in the refrigerator for about 5 days if stored in a plastic bag.
A proven winner, with a delicate flavor and bright green curly leaves, this heirloom variety has been a favorite for over 150 years. Simpson is well adapted to a wide range of climates and is still the best for early spring sowing.
This variety of lettuce is suitable for both garden sowing and container planting. The secret to producing sweet, crisp leaves is plenty of water and fertilizer. Harvest as soon as the leaves are big enough for your use. Use scissors to snip off desired amount, and watch the plant continue to produce. For a seemingly endless supply of summer goodness, plant successive crops every few weeks.
Due to rapid growth and a relatively short life cycle, disease and/or insects are not a major cause of concern. Slugs and snails, however, can sometimes be a problem. Both chemical and organic options are effective measures of pest control.
Black Seeded Simpson will thrive well in your garden when planted along with beans, carrots, cucumbers and radishes. When the plants get too much sun, they begin to produce flowers and the leaves become somewhat bitter. For a modicum of shade, sow seeds at the base of sunflowers. With a minimum of care and a little advanced planning you can enjoy Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce from early spring until first frost.
Sowing The Seed
Lettuce seeds can be started indoors, or directly outdoors as well. If started indoors, choose large peat pots, at least 4 inches tall and 4 inches wide. Sow the seeds in groups of 4, at a depth of 1/16" under topsoil, so that they are barely covered. Transplant entire peat pots outdoors, or direct sow when the weather has become warm. Do not sow deeper than the recommended sowing depth mentioned above, as Lettuce will require a bit of direct light to germinate properly.
Lettuce will thrive in areas of partial sun, meaning that they should receive about 6 hours of sunlight a day. Lettuce plants prefer cooler temperatures, however this variety does very well in warmer regions, with temperatures of 65F to 75F, or more. Black Seeded Simpson will flourish in loose, fertile soils, just make sure that the sowing medium is also well drained. To increase your drainage, we recommend adding a light compost to any areas that consist of hard, compact soil. Water the seeds daily to ensure that the ground is moist, but never soaked.
Germination & Growth
Lettuce will typically germinate within 7 to 14 days after sowing. The plants will reach a mature height of roughly 8 to 12 inches tall, spreading to a good 6 to 12 inches wide. The plants can be spaced roughly 6 inches apart from one another, in rows spaced 8 inches apart. This variety does particularly well in warmer temperatures and can be harvested between 40 and 50 days.