Lettuce Tom Thumb

Sowing lettuce: Tom Thumb

Sowing lettuce is the next thing on the list to do at the allotment and the variety I plan to sow is an old favourite – Tom Thumb (or black seed as it’s otherwise known as).  I know that Tom Thumb lettuces date back as far at the 1850’s, but having conducted some reading online, I am unsure as to who first started to produce this variety of lettuce.

The avid gardeners (and historians) among you will know that they’re also known as Wheeler’s Tom Thumb, after H. Wheeler & Sons – who introduced the seeds in 1858. But, it’s also been claimed that William Thompson was growing them much earlier under the guise of laitue gotte à lente monter – the French name given to this particular variety. This also begs the question, ‘where did the French find Tom Thumb lettuces?’

Either way, it’s popularity flourished and within two decades it was being grown in the states and the world over.

Tom Thumb produces heavily crumpled leaves that equate to the size of a tennis ball.


Sowing lettuce Tom Thumb seeds is dead easy.  All you need to do is sow the seeds into some multipurpose compost and cover with 13mm of soil.  Germination should start within 6 to 12 days.

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