Red Celtuce (Stem Lettuce)
Deep purple leaves make this a particularly beautiful celtuce. Known also as AA Choy Sum, Chinese Stem Lettuce, and Asparagus Lettuce, celtuce is grown primarily for its edible stem, which is crunchy, crispy, and refreshing. Trim the leaves and peel off the skin of the stem. Slice thinly for salads, soups, garlicky stir fries, grilling, and roasting. We received this variety from our friend and grower Christina at Choy Division Farm.
Days to maturity: 75-85
Seeds per pack: 200
Germination rate: 92% on 09/29/2021
Planting / harvesting notes
Seed every 1" in rows 8-12" apart, 1/4-1/2" deep. Keep watered until germination. Thin to every 8". Alternatively, start indoors and transplant into the garden every 8-12” in spring or early summer. Harvest for eating when the stems are thick and at least 8-12" tall, just before flowering.
Seed keeping notes
Lettuce is very much self-pollinating, but give at least 10 feet between plants to avoid unwanted cross-pollination from flying insects. Allow the plants to bolt and flower. Often, flowering lettuce benefits from simple staking (we tie several plants together) so that the flowers and seedheads do not fall to the ground. Seed is ripe when the flowers turn to 'feathers,' which are fluff balls like dandelions. In the moist summers of Pennsylvania, we harvest the entire seedheads when at least 50% of the plant has gone to seed. If there are dry days in the forecast, feel free to wait longer for more ripe seed. Cut the seedheads a few feet down, and allow to dry about a week in a sunny dry place like a greenhouse, sunny window, or even a car seat. Later, wearing a handkerchief or mask to avoid breathing in the feathers and dust, bang the seedheads in a bucket allowing the seed to fall to the bottom. The ripest seeds fall, the least ripe stay in the plant, so do not overdo it. Sift through strainers to remove the large chaff, and then use your breath, a fan, or the wind to carefully blow off the smaller dust.