How to Grow Celtuce
Also known as Chinese lettuce, asparagus lettuce, stem lettuce and celery lettuce, celtuce is a veggie that is grown mainly for its stem. It looks like a cross between celery and lettuce, hence the name, but it actually is a variety of lettuce originating in China.
It is planted just like lettuce when the temps are still cool, about 1/4″ deep and 8″ apart. The leaves are harvested small as the plant grows.
Some people describe celtuce as tasting like rice, but we didn’t get that at all. We would say it is much more similar to lettuce. If the leaves get too large, they can become bitter.
We have also read the stem tastes like a cross between summer squash and an artichoke. It has a very mild flavor, that is for sure, which is why it lends itself so well to any dish that combines multiple flavors.
There is a lot of variance on the internet about when to harvest the celtuce, possibly because there are 3 varieties of celtuce on the market. Suggested diameters range from 1/2 inch to 3 inches, and heights from 5-6 inches to 12-15 inches.
Keep in mind that the larger the stem when you harvest, the longer you will need to blanch it to use in a stir fry for example, and the more likely it will be bitter. We found the smaller sections of the stem to be less woody. We prefer to harvest smaller, at about 1 inch diameter, however tall it is at that point.
One advantage over lettuce is that celtuce doesn’t bolt as fast. If you are in a hot climate this may be what you need. Celtuce can be eaten raw or cooked, in salads and stir fry, and it is a fun veggie to experiment with.
Botanical name: Lactuca sativa var. asparagina, augustana, or angustata
Height: Our experience is 12-15 inches.
Growth habit: Part shade to full sun
Uses: Culinary, mostly for the stem; aids digestion.