There is nothing better than wanting a nice, refreshing, healthy meal and being able to walk into your own backyard garden and pluck your meal from there. If for no other reason than that satisfaction, we highly recommend growing lettuce in your garden.
Like we mentioned above, lettuce is one of the most convenient crops you can grow. All you need to do to get a great meal is walk outside, pull a handful of leaves from the plant, wash them off, and eat them. That is literally all you have to do. Its great!
Obviously, you might want to put mix some more stuff in with your lettuce and make a salad, or maybe stick it on a sandwich. But lettuce is so easy and its one of the fastest growing vegetables. You really cant go wrong with adding it to your garden planning.
How to grow lettuce
Pick out the type of lettuce you would like to grow. You can get your seeds locally or online. We prefer to grow organic and non-GMO crops so we usually buy our organic seeds online.
When we grow lettuce, we usually stick with something like Romaine. In particular, this season we grew a strain called Little Gems.
How to plant lettuce
Your seeds will almost always have planting and care instructions on the back of the package. If not, you can always use this guide to help you through the process.
When to plant lettuce
We always start our lettuce inside. It is recommended to do so 4 weeks before you then transplant them to your garden.
You can also stick them directly into the soil in your garden. Just make sure your soil is workable and not too hard. Lettuce is very cold hardy so colder soil temps are not an issue. They can handle temps between 40 - 65 degrees.
If you want to continue having lettuce throughout the season, it is recommended that you do successive plantings every 10 to 14 days. Give your plants access to full sunlight unless you live in an area with excess heat. Then just make sure they have some shade during the heat of the day.
Need some help getting your garden crops planned? Check out the Ultimate Gardening Calculators for a system that will auto-calculate for you.
Growing lettuce indoors
If you like, once you start your plants inside, you can just grow your lettuce in containers and never move them outdoors. All you need is a light source, organic potting soil, starting trays, and eventually a larger pot.
Your lettuce prefers full sunlight but with a decent light source, sun from your window should be fine.
How far apart to plant lettuce
We prefer to use square foot gardening. Basically we use planting box grids instead of rows. Each grid square is a square foot and we use a 4 x 4 grid.
Lettuce should be planted 10 inches apart. Since our boxes are 12 inches, we usually just plant one set per box. We will sow a few extra seeds to make sure we have something in each box. Then we just cull as necessary to make sure each plant has enough space and nutrients.
If you are sowing directly, you will just want to work the soil a bit for it to loosen up. Then you will plant each seed ¼ to ½ of an inch. Or, your somewhere between your fingertip and the first knuckle past your fingernail.
How long does it take for lettuce to grow?
Like we said earlier, lettuce grows super fast. Your lettuce will start to germinate with a week or 2.
How to harvest lettuce
Your plants will reach maturity around 45 to 80 days. You can actually harvest though as soon as the leaves are big enough to be usable.
We like to just pull leaves off as we need them and let the plant continue to grow.
Is it safe to eat bolted lettuce?
Bolting is basically when lettuce will reach the later stages of it's reproduction cycle. It will send up a flowery stalk in an attempt to seed.
Unfortunately, once they bolt the leaves start to taste bitter and are no longer a tasty meal.
You can keep bolting at bay by keeping your plants trimmed and cut low. You can also plant them earlier in the year so it is cooler and they will be less likely to reach the bolting stage.
If you need help getting your garden crops planned right check out The Ultimate Gardening Calculators so that you have just the amount you need, set aside the right amount of space and know exactly when to plant them.
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