Lettuce ‘Drunken Woman Fringed Headed’

Let’s not talk about the temperature. And can we skip mention of the humidity entirely? Let’s just say that the garden is roasting. In fact, I’m using this post as an excuse to sit here in front of the fan (and I hope you’ll all sit in front of your respective fans and comment) rather than going outside to watch the lettuce bolt. Except for two lettuce varieties, the crop is pretty much creamed as of last week. I’d be a hungry kid if it weren’t for ‘Drunken Woman Fringed Headed’.

I’m new to ‘Drunken Woman Fringed Headed’. The official story is that I purchased the seeds after seeing this lettuce in action in Sylvia Davatz’s Vermont garden (check out the autumn issue of Country Gardens magazine for much more about Sylvia). But let’s get real. The honest truth is — I was tickled by the name. Isn’t everyone? Who could resist having a ‘Drunken Woman Fringed Headed’ in their bed?

For the record, she’s a comely leaf lettuce with the added gimmick of frilly, frizzled edges and a rounded leaf. But with a name like ‘Drunken Woman Fringed Headed’ — who needs good looks? Plus, she’s also got scrumptious taste going for her. Very full-bodied. This isn’t a melt-in-your-mouth lettuce like many of the Buttercrunch types. Substance is what this lettuce is all about. It’s heavy on the crunch, more nutty than buttery.

That said, beggars can’t be choosy in midsummer. And in this weather, salads are a staple. Any lettuce that doesn’t bolt will do, but good taste is a nice perk. Before this heat wave, I had a bumper crop of arugula. I hate to look at it after today — 103 degrees in the shade. Prof. Roush, what’s the lettuce situation out there? Lisa, any lettuce data to report down in PA?

There’s another plus — the Drunken Woman is open-pollinated (just as you would suspect for someone with a name like that. I’m not sure where Sylvia Davatz collected it, but I do know that the name is a translation. And it’s available through Solstice Seeds (Sylvia’s catalog) — email her for a copy at sdav@valley.net. And then, when it does go to seed — Save it! Share it! Sow it next year!


Before the Drunken Woman came into my life, I wasn’t totally lettuce-less at this time of year. Thanks to my old reliable ‘Slobolt’ (Territorial Seeds — www.territorial-seed.com), I didn’t starve. I still wouldn’t be without ‘Slobolt’ in July and August. This standby keeps me in greenery all season long. But the two lettuces are totally different animals. ‘Slobolt’ is very, very buttery with a leaf that’s more limp than the Drunken Woman. It has a tendency to dissolve quickly in an oil dressing. So the two are perfect complements. Together, they make a great pair.

UPDATE — Oh No! I foolishly went out to weed the veggie garden this evening and I’m regretting it. A very ill-tempered wasp got caught in my sun-glasses and now my nose is approximately four times bigger than it was a few minutes ago. Not to mention my swollen eye and throbbing cheek. Guess even the wasps are crabby tonight. My advice to you all — stay safely in front of that fan!

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