Red Sails Lettuce grows very well in home vegetable gardens. This perennial bulb can grow up to twelve inches tall and produces plenty of curly leaves in spring and summer. Small yellow flowers add to its beauty. Red Sails excels at producing fresh greens in full sun, and blooms for several months. In fall, the leaves turn golden and fall colors add a festive look to sweeter varieties. Best of all, red sails remain green year-round.
Planting Rules. Planting Red Sails lettuce requires fertile, well drained soil with good drainage. Prepare the soil by removing all the weeds and grasses. Place the transplanted seedlings in well rotted garden soil and give them some room to grow. Prune away any dead or damaged leaves, and keep the soil moist, but not soggy. You will notice that the red sails leaf lettuce has full growth during early summer.
Care. Red Sails lettuce is an unusual crop, but it is hardy and performs well in most types of garden soil. It does not do well in heavy clay or sand, and the roots spread out well when planted in planters with steep sides. It needs only a moderate amount of fertilizer, and blooms best when planted from May through June.
Planting Tips. The Red Sails plant prefers full sunlight but can tolerate partial shade as well. It is not an easy grower but produces big bunches of leaves that look terrific along walls, on decks and in flowerbeds. It matures slowly, up to three years after planting, and it takes about four years to mature enough to harvest.
Care Tips. Although it can handle shade, Red Sails lettuce does better in sunny conditions where it can receive ample sun rays. To ensure the best results, the best time to plant this variety of leaf lettuce is in late spring or early summer. Because it grows quickly, continuous harvesting is not possible, so it is important not to prune the plant during its blooming period. If you decide to prune the plant, be sure to only remove the center third of the leaves.
Planting & Care Tips. Red Sails is fairly easy species to grow, but care must be taken to ensure it survives the harsh winters. This variety does best in cooler northern climates, but does fine in southern states with full sunlight or with a shaded window. Low fertility and dry soil are the two most common problems facing this shade tolerant leaf lettuce.
Maintenance. Like most low-maintenance varieties of lettuce, Red Sails requires periodic fertilization, mostly in the months before harvesting. Fertilization should be done every two weeks in dry, warm weather. When the weather is warmer, a liquid fertilizer can be applied, using a liquid sprayer or a hand-held sprayer. Be sure to follow the application instructions carefully because they vary with each variety. A well-lightened row depth encourages the growth of healthy Red Sails.
Growing. Although it is a fairly easy type of lettuce to grow, it is not for the novice gardener. If you are new to gardening, start with a light, quick-growing strain like African Mango Sunchoke or Italian Pink Lady. Lettuces tend to grow more rapidly than many other plants, but they will still thrive even under hard conditions. In addition to being easily grown, a red sails leaf lettuce vegetable garden is also very forgiving.
Growth. Because the Red Sails is generally harvested whole, you should be able to get about six to eight leaves from each plant. This should be satisfactory, but it will not always be the case. This is because they are quite particular about which shoots and roots make it to the top, so be sure to take note when harvesting.
Harvest. The Red Sails’ short, stubby leaves should be picked off easily after they have dried for about half an inch. It is best to pick the young, green, tender leaves rather than the older, dry ones.
Cooking. Like most types of lettuce, Red Sails is good with any kind of meat, though it is considered a side dish rather than a main dish. Leftover Sails lettuce will keep well for a week or two in a plastic zipper bag in the fridge and then can be reheated using a grill, or oven. If you leave the wilted leaves on the bush, they will eventually dry out and turn black, which gives them a grayish color.