Growing lettuce from seed in the home garden is one of the easiest things you’ll ever do! You’ll have fresh lettuce every single day and never have to settle for sub-standard greens from the grocery ever again!
Lettuce is a cool-weather crop, meaning that it grows and tastes best in the spring and fall. Hot summer temperatures tend to make it bolt (go to seed) and taste bitter.
Growing lettuce can begin 4-6 weeks before your last frost indoors. Make sure you use a potting mix for containers, soil from your garden will not work for this purpose.
As a matter of fact, I often grow lettuce in my south-facing window during the winter months. It grows a bit slower, but I can still clip and eat from it and then transplant it into the warmer spring soil.
Growing Lettuce from Seed
You can direct sow lettuce seeds at outdoor temperatures of 60-70 degrees.
Before you plant, you should amend your soil with well-rotted compost. Lettuce prefers pH levels of 6.5-7.0, be sure to check your levels before planting. It’s easily done with a digital pH monitor.
Sow lettuce seeds under 1/8″ of soil once the chance of frost has passed, in a sunny location with good drainage. Space your seeds about 10″ apart with rows at least 12″ apart.
Once seeds have germinated, approximately one to two weeks depending upon variety, thin them to the proper spacing in the event you planted too many.
For continuous harvest, stagger your plantings 2-3 weeks and you’ll have fresh lettuce all season long, with plenty to share!
Types of Lettuce
There are four basic types of lettuces, with hundreds of variations among them. The best salads include a little bit of several types of lettuce for the most flavor, texture and vitamins!
I LOVE growing Romaine lettuce, it’s one of my favorites and I’ve grown many different varieties over the years with much pleasure! It’s amazing how many colors and variegations are available!
Flashy Trout’s Back is an Austrian heirloom with dark-green leaves and wine-colored speckles. It’s gorgeous!
Devil’s Tongue is another glorious romaine lettuce that is light green at the base and turns to a deep red at the tips!
Green Salad Bowl is a lovely leaf lettuce that grows quickly and has a mild flavor.
Merlot is a deep red, almost purple leaf lettuce which is full of antioxidants!
Red Iceberg is a beautiful alternative to the average iceberg! It’s just another variety that makes growing lettuce fun!
Victoria lettuce is a heavy, upright head of lettuce with a large 10″ diameter head!
Skyphos is another gorgeous dark-red Butterhead with a lime green heart…stunning!
How to Harvest Lettuce
Harvesting lettuce varies, depending on what type of lettuce you are trying to harvest.
Leaf lettuces are best harvested by plucking the mature leaves from the outside of the plant.
Romaine and other “single-leaf” lettuces are best harvested by cutting 1-2 inches from the ground. This way the plant will continue to grow.
Companion Plants for Lettuce
I highly recommend the use of “companion planting” in your garden! It’s the best way to reduce issues with pests, as well as mutually benefit each plant so that they grow to their fullest capability!
Lettuce plants are easy to pop into different empty spots in your garden. Insert lettuce plants between strawberries, cucumbers, carrots and radishes. It’s very attractive to see them all growing together.
Growing Lettuce in Containers
Lettuce grows quite well in containers, whether you keep large pots on the patio, balcony or in window boxes. You can use just about any kind of pot to grow several types of lettuce, even if you don’t have much of a yard!
Lettuce is such an easy crop to grow! It’s perfect for beginners and for those with “little hands” who will be helping in the garden!
Grow some lettuce this year!