Easy Peasy Lettuce
Steady moisture and cool temperatures are perfect for growing lettuce.
Lettuce grows best in full sun, except during hot weather when shade is required to keep the plant from getting bitter. All lettuces do well in containers, a single head can be grown in a small 1 gallon pot--so don't let the size of your garden keep you from enjoying fresh lettuce.
Here are a few suggestions for growing lettuce:
Prepare your soil by mixing a 1/2 inch layer of compost and sprinkling of organic fertilizer into the top 6 inches of soil. Be sure to read the fertilizer label for proper application.
Sow seeds 1/4 inches deep. Keep rows spaced about 12-18 inches apart so that the lettuce plants have air around them. Alternatively you can sow the seeds much closer together if you plan to thin and replant or gift to family or friends as lettuce starts.
Keep the seeded soil moist but not overly damp until the plants have germinated and are pushing up the first leaves.
Once plants are showing 2-4 leaves, thin seedlings to 4" apart. Thin a second time when the seedling leaves start to touch another plant. If you have planted a type of lettuce that "heads" be sure to thin to at least 12" apart otherwise the head will not form well.
Lettuce is a cool season crop so don't grow when temperatures get much above 75 degrees. Excess heat causes the lettuce to get bitter and the leaves grow tough.
Keep the lettuce plants well watered. A good rule for our area is about 1-2 inches of water per week. This can be rain or supplemental irrigation. Keep in mind that the soil in containers will dry out more quickly than ground soil, so keep an eye on any lettuce in pots.
Plan to reseed very 2-3 weeks so that you have new plants available to replace those you are harvesting.
You can extend your growing season by starting seeds indoors under grow lights. This can be done about 5-6 weeks before our last frost date which is usually around Mother's Day. Use row covers to protect outdoor plants in the fall to extend the growing season into winter.
Rotate your growing area. Growing any plant in the same place year after year depletes the soil and increases likelihood of disease or poor nutrition for your plants.
Don't forget to harvest often and enjoy your garden success.
Recipes--Lettuce wraps and other things to do with lettuce beside salad
How-to--Grow lettuce as part of your ornamental garden or use easy to find containers