By Kathee Mierzejewski
If you’re new to growing vegetables in a garden, you might ask, “How do I grow lettuce?” Since lettuce is a very popular vegetable to grow in a home garden, the proper way how to grow lettuce is important to know.
When Do I Need to Plant Lettuce?
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is definitely a cool season vegetable. This means that growing lettuce can be done in early spring when temperatures are between 45 and 65 F. (7-18 C.). Lettuce prefers moist, cool conditions, and you don’t even have to worry about chilly weather because the seedlings can tolerate a light frost.
When do I need to plant lettuce? Plant it at the very beginning of spring. You don’t have to worry much about frost, but the ground must be workable. If the ground is still frozen, wait until it thaws. You want the soil worked out so there are no clumps.
Like many vegetables, lettuce enjoys sunny areas of the garden. That said, this is one of those vegetable plants that will actually thrive in a little bit of shade too, making it great for under planting with taller crops, like tomatoes.
How to Grow Lettuce from Seeds
When growing lettuce, make sure your soil is loose, fertilized properly and well drained. Your soil should be moist, but not soaked. Lettuce prefers a slightly acidic soil, so some compost can be worked into the soil if need be.
Again, work your soil so there are no clumps. This is important so that the seeds can get good soil to seed contact, which is vital for nutrition. Make sure your lettuce seeds are covered by ¼ to ½ inch finely worked soil.
Plant lettuce in rows 12 to 15 inches long, with about 18 inches between rows. When you see growing lettuce seedlings, thin them to 4 to 6 inches apart, which prevents overcrowding.
When to Harvest Lettuce
Harvest your lettuce when the heads or leaves (depending on the variety) are full sized. As soon as you see the leaves are grown, pick them while they’re still tender. If you allow the lettuce to become too mature, you’ll end up with bitter lettuce, and that makes for a bad salad.
Now that you know how to grow lettuce, you’re well on your way to having one of the most important staples in your garden.