Lactuca sativa var. crispa ‘Prizehead’
(lak-TOO-kah  saw-TEE-vah)    Family: Asteraceae
syn. ‘Prize Head’; ‘Early Prize Head’
Common name: ‘Prizehead’ lettuce
Zone: 3 – 12
Height: 9-15 in (23-38 cm) Spread: 4-6 in (10-15 cm)
Aspect: full sun; partial shade
Soil: fertile; well-draining
Water: regular

Days to Maturity (from direct seeding): 50 – 60
Seed Life: 3 years

Description: A tall, looseleaf-type lettuce. Broad, light green leaves are upright with red-blushed, curled tips. Excellent, mildly sweet flavour.

Special Notes: An heirloom variety dating back to the mid-1700s. Suited to early sowing in spring and is also slow to bolt when temperatures begin to heat up. Sow some seeds in mid- to late August for fall harvesting. In some regions, ‘Prizehead’ may survive through the winter with protection, depending on your region.

How to Grow: Start seeds indoors under grow lights 4-6 weeks before your last frost date. (For us in Black Creek, this would be around the 1st week of March.) Direct seed outdoors when soil temperature reaches a minimum of 1.7 °C (35 °F). Optimum soil temperature for lettuce seed germination is 10 – 21 °C (50 – 70 °F). Amend soil with compost and a complete organic fertilizer before planting. Sow seed at a depth of ¼ – ½ in (6 – 12 mm) in rows 18 – 24 in (45 – 60 cm) apart. Thin seedlings to a spacing of 8 – 10 in (20 – 25 cm) for leaf lettuce types. For a continuous supply of lettuce throughout the season, sow a few seeds every 2 – 3 weeks. Cover early and late sowings with a poly tunnel or row cover to protect lettuce from frost. Ready to harvest in 50 – 60 days from direct seeding in optimum temperatures.

Special Growing Notes: Can withstand light frosts but will do better if given some protection. A thick layer of mulch, floating row cover or erecting a poly tunnel will save young plants in the spring and extend the season further into the fall months.

How to Use: Excellent in salads and sandwiches.

Pests & Diseases: Aphids, cabbage looper, cutworms, leafminers, slugs and whitefly are a few of the more notable pests. Of particular concern are aphids as they can transmit diseases such as lettuce mosaic and leaf roll. Anthracnose can also impact on lettuce plants.

In our Zone 7a garden: We like ‘Prizehead’ for its cold hardiness in our cooler garden. We often plant a row of ‘Prizehead’ and harvest individual leaves for our salads. When the heat hits in the summer, the kale in the next row usually is tall enough to shade the lettuce somewhat. If any plants are lagging in the heat, we will harvest them. Depending on our motivation to put in a winter garden, we will sow a row of ‘Prizehead’ in mid- to late August…depending on the temperatures at that time. Otherwise, I will grow a few seedlings under my grow lights indoors for some fresh greens in the winter. 


Posted on January 27, 2021