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How to Grow Lettuce

Posted by on Mar. 28, 2011 at 8:08 PM
  • 3 Replies

Dozens of lettuce varieties are available to the home gardener and are very easy to grow. Not only that, but lettuce is highly productive even in small spaces and is virtually pest- and disease-free.

Grow Your Own Lettuce

Although lettuce seeds need cool weather to germinate, getting an early start and choosing a few heat-tolerant varieties can ensure a bountiful crop from spring through fall.

  • To get a jump on the season, start some early varieties indoors a few weeks before the last frost. Plant them as soon as the ground can be worked.
  • If planting lettuce seeds directly outdoors, start immediately after the last frost, because the seeds will sprout and grow best when the soil temperature is cooler than 80 degrees. 
  • For continuous production, plant new seeds every two weeks or so. Heat-tolerant varieties can be started indoors and set out as you eat your way through the lettuce patch.
  • Lettuce needs rich, well-draining soil, full sun, and plenty of water. A raised bed with plenty of organic matter works well, as it helps retain moisture. Mulching also keeps the soil moist and cool, too.
  • Start thinning as soon as the true leaves form--the earlier, the better. Be sure to use them. The tender thinnings are especially tasty.

Lots of Choices

There are dozens of lettuce varieties to choose from, all falling within four basic categories: 
  • Leaf lettuces produce a rosette of loose leaves at the crown. Plant several varieties to produce your own mix of greens. Recommended types include Green Ice, one of the sweetest lettuces available; Prizeleaf, known for its tenderness and flavor; and the heat-tolerant Royal Oak Leaf.
  • Butterhead, also called Boston, Bibb, or limestone lettuce, is one of the easiest lettuces to grow. The best part is you can plant it from spring through fall. The soft, fine-textured leaves look somewhat like spinach and have a sweet, buttery flavor. Buttercrunch is perhaps the most popular variety. Burpee Bibb is best for early-spring planting, and Merveille des Quatre Saisons(Marvel of Four Seasons) has a fine cucumber-like flavor.
  • Crispheads have large, firm heads (think iceberg lettuce). They need a long, cool growing season, so they're not practical for most home gardens unless planted for fall. Mini Green and Summertime are exceptions, but the heads aren't as large or firm as iceberg.
  • Romaine, or cos, lettuces feature tall heads and thick, sweet ribs. They have more nutrients than other varieties, but their flavors can be overwhelming unless paired with milder lettuce. Rouch d'Hiver, Little Caesar, and Parris Island are the easiest to grow.

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by on Mar. 28, 2011 at 8:08 PM
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Replies (1-3):
by on Mar. 29, 2011 at 10:07 AM
The darn rabbits ate all mine last year!
by on Mar. 29, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Awesome have to try that.

by on Mar. 30, 2011 at 4:20 AM


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