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How to Grow Lettuce

Lettuce is easy to grow. Many home gardeners consider lettuce one of the basics in the vegetable garden. With plenty of varieties to choose from, gardeners like you and me, will plant several varieties of lettuce greens. This affords us choice and versatility in the kitchen, as we turn our  fresh picked garden greens into a healthy salad and more!

Lettuce is the star ingredient in salads. Many of us have enjoy a salad at least once a day, often more. For the diet conscious, low calorie, nutritious Lettuce is a big part of staying slim and healthy.

Iceberg lettuce is the king of lettuces. But, eating just iceberg lettuce day after day gets boring. Try a few varieties of leaf lettuce, and other loose-head lettuces. You'll be glad you did! We recommend growing Mesclun. It contains a variety of lettuces in one seed package. Some Mesclun 'greens" are even red!

How to Grow Lettuce:

Grow Lettuce plants in full sun to partial shade. They prefer rich soil that holds water. They thrive in cool weather and will do their best in spring and fall.

Sow lettuce seeds directly into the garden after all danger of frost has past. While they are a cool weather crop, many varieties will succumb to even a light frost. Sow tiny seeds as finely as possible. Try using a seed sower.

Plant in rows, spreading the seeds as thinly as possible. Thin seeds to spacing recommended on the seed packet for the variety you have planted. Loosehead varieties will tolerate a little crowding.

Heading varieties can be started indoors 2-3 weeks prior to planting. We recommend using peat pellets for lettuce, to minimize transplanting shock.

Use succession planting techniques on lettuce. Plant a several smaller amounts of lettuce, spaced a week or two apart. This will produce a steady supply of lettuce over a longer period of time.

Fast growing lettuce produces best with the least problems. Apply ample amounts of fertilizer and water. Try liquid fertilizers.

As a cool weather lovers, lettuce will wilt and bolt in hot summer weather. Spring and fall crops are best.


Days to Maturity:  Loose leaf lettuces go from seed to your table in 3-4 weeks. Loose head and heading varieties take several weeks, depending upon variety. Check the seed packet for specific maturity times.

Pick lose leaf lettuces as soon as it is big enough to use. Pick the outer leaves first. The inner leaves will continue to grow. Harvest heading varieties when the head is fully formed and tight(or full).

Insects , Pests, and Disease:

Bunnies like lettuce. Got bunnies!? Use of a rabbit fence is recommended.

Insects are a significant problem. Lettuce is delicate, and can absorb many insecticides. If you must use insecticides, read and follow the pesticide label very carefully. Wash lettuce thoroughly when harvested.

Slugs are also a common problem.  There are a variety of control methods. More on Slugs and snails.

More Information:

Garden Recipes - Find Lettuce recipes and garden recipes galore!

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