Lettuce is the epitome of fresh.  From early spring harvests to salads in the heat of summer to the delight of local greens in late fall and winter, a salad adds a splash freshness to every meal.

At Good Heart Farmstead, where we grow intensively on 1 acre for both CSA and wholesale, salad mix is our main wholesale crop.  In the summer, we harvest around 300 lbs of salad a week, and the heart of our mix is lettuce.

We started out with direct-seeded baby leaf crops, loving the Gourmet Mix during the main season and Yankee Hardy for fall harvests, but a few years ago one-cut lettuce varieties came onto the market and they quickly became our favorite salad crop.  From the loft to the higher yields per bed to the versatility, they have so much to offer.

When High Mowing began offering Eazyleaf one-cut lettuces, we were psyched.  While there are some amazing one-cuts on the market, the seed can be quite pricey, and since we buy about 90% of our seed from High Mowing, we’d been waiting for them to offer a one-cut option.  The price point of the Eazyleaf series was a huge bonus—even as a small farm, with the amount of salad we grow our lettuce seed makes up a large portion of our seed budget, and switching over to the Eazyleaf series has kept our salad tasting great and our seed budget happier.

Why One-Cuts?

One-cut lettuces are 2 crops in 1: baby lettuce heads and baby leaf lettuce.  Harvested as a head, they turn into instant baby leaf simply but cutting about 1” above the base of the plant.  This lets us mix up our offerings from just one crop.

Our CSA members love the baby heads and that they hold up so well in the fridge.  We’ve had members tell us that our salad mix stayed fresh for 2 weeks or more in their fridge, a testament to EazyLeaf storage ability.

Along with their versatility, one-cuts add more loft and texture to salad mixes.  Our favorite variety, Ezrilla, is the base of our salad mix.  Its sweet crunch and incised leaves keep the mix from falling flat.  Brentwood also offers crunch and loft, and is a striking contrast to Ezrilla.

But what makes one-cuts stand out the most is their yield.  Compared to baby leaf lettuce, our one-cut harvest is on average double the weight per bed.

Production

Growing on just 1 acre, we maximize yields by transplanting as much as possible.  Transplanting allows us to flip beds from one crop to another faster than direct-seeding, which is another reason we love growing one-cut lettuces over direct-seeded baby leaf mixes.

We start one-cuts in trays and transplant them out in 4 rows at 6” apart in 30” beds.  While the days to maturity are longer with one-cuts—the Gourmet Mix is 28 DTM, compared to Ezrilla which is 52 DTM—we’ve found that the higher yield, quality, and ability to transplant evens out the DTM trade-off.

We harvest the one-cuts by hand.  At first this seemed like another trade-off, as we love the ease of the quick-cut greens harvester for baby leaf crops, but with one-cuts, we’ve found that too many leaves were left in the field.  Doing it by hand allows us to harvest the whole head, or to cut just above the base for baby leaf.  If you have weed pressure in your beds, hand harvesting also allows you to be selective around weeds and get a cleaner crop from the beginning.

Making Your Own Salad Mix

As I mentioned, Ezrilla is the base of our salad mix, and if you want a colorful, lofty salad with crunch and a bit of sweetness, pair Ezrilla with Brentwood. For a multi-textured lettuce mix, add the oak-leaf varieties Buckley and Hampton.

For a diverse mesclun mix, add in Astro Arugula, Purple Mizuna, and baby Red Russian Kale.

And if you want a good kick of spice, toss in Ruby Streaks Mustard greens (my favorite spicy green).