You might not be surprised to find out that the most widely planted salad vegetable in the United States is lettuce.Considered a spring and fall crop, lettuce thrives when temperatures are between 60 to 70 degrees F. Many varieties reach maturity in as little as 30 days, and some can even be harvested much earlier as microgreens.From your garden beds to patio containers, these simple steps will give you a bountiful supply of crisp salad greens throughout multiple seasons.You can begin planting leaf, romaine and butterhead lettuce as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring.Head lettuce is usually started indoors or in a cold frame and transplanted in the spring after the last frost date.The ideal lettuce growing location for spring and fall is in a spot that receives full sun.If you plan on growing lettuce during the summer or in warm planting zones, partial shade can provide protection from the heat.Growing lettuce from seed in late summer may require generous artificial shade to help cool the soil for germination.Once days become cooler, the shade can be removed to give plenty of sunlight to young lettuce plants.The addition of organic materials, such as compost or manure, will increase drainage, provide essential nutrients and improve your lettuce growing conditions.If you’ve had trouble with lettuce growth, consider purchasing a soil test kit.Lettuce seeds are often quite small and only require a planting depth of ¼ to ½ inch deep.Head lettuce is usually grown from seeds started indoors during warm weather for a fall garden.Avoid watering too often – overwatering leads to root rot, disease and stunted growth.You’ll find these annoying little white pests hiding on the undersides of lettuce leaves.There isn’t a systemic insecticide to control aphids, so your best option is to encourage natural predators, such as lady beetles, or to apply a horticultural soap or neem oil.If you notice your lettuce beginning to brown and curl, it could be suffering from a physiological condition known as tipburn.Romaine, also known as cos, forms tall, tight bundles of thick, sweet lettuce leaves.Green Towers, Valley Heart and Red Eyes Cos are all interesting romaine cultivars.Named after the subtle butter flavor, this mild lettuce adds a sweet touch to salads.Other areas can use modifications, such as cold frames, row covers and greenhouses to extend the growing season.Other gardening tricks to prevent bolting in warm weather include planting lettuce in shady areas, using mulch to cool the ground and conserve moisture, and providing a light mist of overhead irrigation to cool plants. .
How to Plant Lettuce: A Guide to Growing & Harvesting Lettuce
This popular salad green is one of the easiest crops to grow in garden beds and containers and is ideal for spring and autumn harvesting.In our family, we eat a lot of salads and if you’re buying lettuce at the supermarket, the cost quickly adds up.Growing your own lettuce is an easy way to save on grocery bills and enjoy months of homegrown organic greens.– An essential ingredient in Caesar salad, romaine lettuce plants form tight, upright heads of crisp leaves.– Butterhead lettuce, also known as Boston or Bibb, forms lovely loose heads of tender crisp leaves.Once you’ve picked your spot, prepare the bed for planting by digging in an inch or two of compost or aged manure.It produces a shallow root system and can be grown in this cool Vegtrug 8 pocket herb garden, window-boxes, pots, fabric planters, baskets, or any container that is at least four to six inches deep and has drainage holes.Transplant lettuce seedlings that were started indoors under grow lights or purchased from a garden centre.You can grow a single variety this way or buy a packet of gourmet mixed lettuces.When transplanting lettuce into my garden beds or containers, I typically plant in a grid pattern, spacing each seedling about ten inches apart.You can grow it as a baby crop and harvest the young leaves for weeks or you can allow the plants to mature to full-sized heads.For the best-tasting romaine lettuce give the plants consistent moisture, plenty of sunlight and cool temperatures.Because my garden is a slug haven, I find it helpful to start seeds for romaine lettuce indoors and move the seedlings out to my raised beds a week or two before the last expected spring frost.The successive crops come from the additional lettuce seeds I sow every two to three weeks from mid-spring to early summer.Seeding lettuce over the course of spring or autumn results in a non-stop crop of high quality greens.This technique works well for romaine lettuce which then forms compact heads just six to eight inches tall.I live in a northern climate where spring often takes a few steps backwards and temperatures dip below freezing.If your spring weather turns from warm to hot quicker than expected, keep lengths of shade cloth handy so that you can create a shady spot.It’s easy to make hoops from half inch PVC conduit, metal wire, or other materials.Or, erect a mini hoop tunnel over your bed and cover with bird netting, chicken wire, or an insect barrier fabric.Aphids are tiny, soft bodied insects that suck the juices from the leaves, causing curling or distortion.Selectively harvest outer leaves from looseleaf or heading varieties as the plants grow. .
Space lettuce plants 6 to 18 inches apart (depending on the variety) in an area that gets an abundance of sun and has fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.Well-hydrated lettuce will bear tender leaves, so keep moisture levels consistent by watering whenever the top inch of soil becomes dry.Prevent weeds and make your watering efforts last longer by applying a thick layer of mulch made from finely ground leaves or bark.In fact, a spring crop often lasts longer if shaded from the afternoon sun as the season warms. .
How to Grow Lettuce
Or start seeds inside around five weeks prior to your area's projected last spring frost date.Choose a fairly sunny growing site with well-draining, organically rich soil.By the time the lettuce is finished in early summer, the warm-season vegetables will be actively growing and able to take over the space.But in general, keeping lettuce plants fairly close together will help to suppress weeds.Full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days, is ideal for lettuce.Like with other salad greens, it’s important to maintain even soil moisture for lettuce.If the soil gets too dry, the plants might bolt, or send up flower spikes and go to seed, which turns the leaves bitter.Humidity typically isn't an issue for lettuce as long as adequate soil moisture is maintained and there's air flow around the plants.Work compost into the soil prior to planting to enrich it with organic matter.Butterhead also forms a head, but the texture is more soft and pliable with less distinct veins compared to crisphead.also forms a head, but the texture is more soft and pliable with less distinct veins compared to crisphead.Looseleaf lettuce can regrow from a cut stem without losing quality in flavor or texture.Looseleaf lettuce can regrow from a cut stem without losing quality in flavor or texture.Cos or Romaine is an upright plant with long, narrow leaves that look coarse but are actually quite tender.The best time of day to harvest is in the morning when the lettuce is still plump and the sun hasn’t caused it to wilt at all.Unglazed clay is an ideal container material, as it will allow excess soil moisture to escape through its walls.Also, trim off any broken leaves that drag on the ground to prevent them from introducing pests and diseases to the plant.This won’t provide as large of a harvest as your initial planting, but it is an inexpensive and easy way to get more lettuce.But a mix marked specifically for lettuce is better, as it usually has components to retain adequate soil moisture.Aim to plant lettuce initially in a container that will accommodate its mature size to avoid having to disturb its roots with repotting.Common pests that might afflict lettuce include aphids, slugs, and snails, as well as wildlife nibbling on the leaves.Growing lettuce in the environment it likes can help to prevent pest and disease issues.Lettuce is simple to grow, as long as it has cool weather and sufficient water. .
How to Grow Lettuce – West Coast Seeds
Lettuce grows best in cool weather in the spring and fall, but it can be grown in the summer, and all winter long in milder regions.Sow short rows every 2-3 weeks following the last average frost date for a continual harvest.Using a cloche, cold frame, or greenhouse over mid-late summer plantings can extend the harvest period right into winter.Get around this by sprouting them indoors in a cool area, or pre-sprout by sprinkling seeds on a damp paper towel and placing it in a plastic bag in the fridge for a few days.In hot weather most lettuce goes to seed rapidly, so have new plantings ready to go, and watch for "good resistance to bolting" in the product description.Sowing babyleaf lettuce seeds closely together in narrow rows makes harvesting simpler.If the soil is allowed to dry out, the clay pelleting material can wick water away from the seed, causing uneven or lower germination.Most varieties will be ready for harvesting as baby leaves in half the days shown on the packet.Mature summer lettuce stays in prime eating condition only a short time, so harvest promptly and keep planting.Slugs are a problem in early and late plantings, so clean up their hiding places, and only water in the morning.Lettuce plants make good companions for beets, Brassicas, carrot, celery, chervil, cucumbers, dill, garlic, onions, radish, spinach, squash, and strawberries. .
How Do I Grow Lettuce
In fact, in warmer months, a little shade can stall bolting — that’s what it’s called when a lettuce plant sends up a flower stem and the leaves become bitter.If you are establishing a new planting bed or suspect the pH is off in your garden, getting a soil test now can prevent frustration later.Lettuce may be sown directly into the garden under a fine layer of soil after the last hard frost.Space seeds with a foot between rows and 8 inches between plants, give or take depending on the variety.For a jumpstart on the spring garden, start lettuce seeds indoors 3 to 4 weeks before your area’s last hard frost — which is around 28 degrees overnight.For a fall crop, plant seeds or transplants into the garden about six weeks before the first frost.Lettuce thrives in temperatures between 45 and 80 degrees and is a great candidate for extending the growing season.To grow lettuce even earlier in spring or even later in fall, plants can go inside a cold frame or under row cover or shade cloth.Romaine lettuces, also called cos, grow tall heads with ribbed, crisp leaves.In the kitchen, romaine hearts can be chopped up for salad and the outer leaves can be used in place of tortillas or bread for wraps or buns.Crispino performs well even when grown in the warm and humid conditions that are challenging for many iceberg varieties.Red Sails, Dazzle and Flashy Trout’s Back are each good options for a splash of color.Loose-leaf lettuces grow fast and can be harvested continuously, making them a favorite among gardeners.Amish Deer Tongue is a very productive lettuce with pointy, dark green leaves.Salanova is a group of proprietary lettuce varieties from Johnny’s Selected Seeds that can be grown either in-ground or hydroponically.Salanova Red Batavia is compact and upright with leaves that are green at the base and purple-ish at the tips.Lettuce has shallow roots, so water consistently — especially on hot days — to provide moist but not wet soil.A 2-inch layer of organic mulch such as shredded leaves or arborist wood chips will help maintain that moisture and protect your plants.Aphids, armyworms, flea beetles, slugs and snails, thrips and whiteflies all have a taste for lettuce.Floating row cover is effective as stopping flying insects from laying eggs on lettuce, while a bait like Sluggo, which contains iron phosphate, is a safe, organic option for slug and snail control.Copper fungicide can slow the spread, but removing and destroying affected heads is most effective.When harvesting a head of romaine, iceberg or bibb, cut plants at soil level with a sharp knife once the variety is at its full size.Sign up to receive gardening resources, eBooks and email updates on the joegardener podcast and more.Episode 122: Fall Vegetable Garden Success: Best Plants and Tips for Cool-Season Growing.joegardener Online Gardening Academy™ Optimal Soil Temperature Range chart.The selection of all items featured in this post and podcast were based solely on merit and in no way influenced by any affiliate or financial incentive, or contractual relationship.At the time of this writing, Joe Lamp’l has professional relationships with the following companies who may have products included in this post and podcast: Rain Bird, Corona Tools, Milorganite, Soil3, Exmark, and Wild Alaskan Seafood Box. .
How to grow lettuce: plant and care for lettuce varieties
Well, if you’ve ever eaten freshly picked homegrown lettuce you’ll know there’s a world of difference between the deliciously succulent leaves straight from the garden, and the sad, wilting specimens you might find in a supermarket.You can even be eating your own homegrown lettuce leaves before then if you harvest the edible young seedlings rather than discarding them as you thin your plants out.As lettuce plants prefer cooler temperatures it’s best to sow seeds outdoors from March to August.If you want to grow and harvest your lettuces in winter, you will need to keep them indoors in a warm, bright space, such as on a window ledge.The key is to barely cover the seed after sowing, just a very fine layer of compost is sufficient as light is needed for germination.If you’re sowing lettuce seed outdoors directly into the soil, prepare the ground first by digging in plenty of well-rotted garden compost.Once they are big enough to handle, thin the seedlings out to allow 10-20cm between plants and mulch around them with well-rotted compost to lock in moisture and keep them healthy.Garden writer and photographer Leigh Clapp favors the succession planting approach, saying: 'Lettuce will provide around five months’ yield from one seed packet.Now back in favor again after a few decades in the shadow of loose leaf varieties, it’s far easier to grow than you might imagine.Don McCulley of Swallow Tail Garden Seeds says, 'Oak leaf lettuce has tender and mild-tasting, deeply-lobed leaves that can be picked individually or allowed to form dense, ruffly heads.'.Cut and come again lettuce works particularly well in a shallow seed tray, or in a container on a window ledge where it's easy to pick whenever you need a few leaves.For all types of lettuce in containers, you just need to provide the right conditions as you would if you were growing them in the ground outside – fertile soil, enriched with moisture retaining compost, enough space between plants, protection from extreme heat (so they don’t bolt) and extreme cold (so the frost doesn’t kill them), and regular watering, of course.If none of those methods appeal, you could go into the garden in the evenings with a head torch, to collect slugs and snails and dispose of them or 'relocate ' them away from your crops.Hot, sunny conditions Although they need light to germinate, lettuce plants do better in part shaded areas of the garden.They prefer cool, moist soil and if the conditions are too hot and sunny the plants have a tendency to bolt, so bear this in mind when selecting your spot in the vegetable plot. .