Reward Yourself with Crisp, Freshly-Picked Greens
The easiest kind of lettuce to grow is leaf lettuce. It can be grown outdoors from early spring to late fall. Leaf lettuces can also be grown in containers both indoors and out. They will also grow in cold temperatures if protected by a cold frame.
Growing lettuce head is more difficult and needs to be managed more carefully.
Lettuce shares the benefit of other leafy greens, that partial amounts of the plant may be harvested as needed. Read on for our full guide on how to grow lettuce in your own garden.
Lettuce can be started with seed outside or with transplants from seed started inside.
Plant seeds at a depth of 1/8 inch. There should be 1inch between seeds and 12 – 18 inches between rows. If planting in a bed or patch, the seeds can be broadcast.
Once the plants have a few leaves they should be separated so that there are 6 – 10 inches between plants.
To start transplants, seeds should be started inside, 4 weeks before desired soil planting date. The seedlings should be hardened off for a few days before being placed in the ground. There should be 6 – 10 inches between the transplanted seedlings and 14 – 18 inches between rows.
Seeds can be started every two weeks in order to have a continuous harvest throughout the growing season.
Lettuce roots are directly below the surface so care should be taken not to break or disturb them while weeding.
The loose-leaf varieties will be the easiest to grow. The leaves can be picked as soon as 4 weeks after planting.
Butterhead varieties are known for the best flavors. Butterhead varieties of lettuce have loosely formed heads, with somewhat slippery leaves.
Romaine varieties of lettuce have heads that grow in an upright direction. Some varieties can grow as high as 2 feet tall. These varieties are more suited to warmer climates and come in a variety of colors.
French lettuce varieties are crisp can be treated as leaf lettuces or harvested later in the season after heads have formed.
Crisphead varieties of lettuce are the kind traditionally sold in produce sections. Iceberg lettuce is the most well known of the crisphead varieties. This type of lettuce is the most difficult to grow and requires cool weather to mature properly.
Remove Cabbage worms manually and destroy them. Using row covers made of netting or tightly woven cheesecloth will help protect the plants from Cabbage worm damage. Row covers need to be removed from the plant rows once summer temperatures are consistently above 78°F.
A direct and steady spray of water will displace aphids from the plants. This should be done before the sun is directly overhead so plants will not be scorched.
If Cabbage Root Maggots are present the plants will show wilting and may eventually die. Plants should be cleaned and transplanted.
Lettuce leaves should be rinsed with cool water and then patted dry. It is best not to spin dry the leaves because this process will damage the leaves and cause them to wilt more quickly. Lettuce leaves can be kept in the refrigerator or in a cool area, for as long as a week. The leaves can be frozen whole in plastic bags, if they are thoroughly dry before bagging and freezing.