How to Grow Lettuce
and Great Lettuce Varieties

Learn how to grow lettuce and have access to great tasting lettuce for your salads.  Also, learn how to create an abundance of lettuce seeds for the next growing season.   And successfully growing lettuce can be made easier with certain lettuce varieties.

Planting lettuce in a container enables you to grow lettuce on your deck or patio. This is one way of how to grow lettuce that almost anyone will be able to accomplish.

There are many lettuce varieties to try and knowing which ones are more tolerant to heat will ensure greater success in warmer climates or during the summer months.  Learn how to grow lettuce and harvest an abundant supply of lettuce seeds each year to share with your friends and family.

How to Grow Lettuce - The Basics

  • Lettuce should be grown in well-drained soil with a good amount of organic content and soil should not be too acidic or lumpy
  • Plant your lettuce seeds in a sunny area or in an area with partial shade
  • Space seeds (approx. 6 inches apart to avoid transplanting) - this will depend on whether you are planting leaf or head lettuce
  • Cover seeds with 1/8 to 1/4 inch of top soil and moisten soil with water - make sure your lettuce seeds stay moist until they sprout
  • Seeds will germinate in 2 to 10 days. Leaf lettuce takes approx. 40 days from seed to harvest and head lettuce approx. 70 days from seed to harvest
  • Lettuce plants hate being moved, so thinning out seedlings might be better than transplanting your lettuce
  • Lettuce will benefit from a good layer of mulch as lettuce is shallowly rooted and can be easily uprooted
  • Lettuce is tolerant to some frost and light freezes, but too hot or dry conditions may cause your lettuce plants to turn bitter and bolt to flower
  • How to Grow Lettuce almost Year Round:   Just be sure to stagger your plantings and you will have a steady supply of lettuce throughout the spring, summer, and fall.

Tips for Growing Lettuce

Growing lettuce is easy as long as you meet its basic growing requirements.   Lettuce in general are cool weather plants and the easiest time to grow lettuce is in the early spring or fall.

However, certain lettuce varieties will grow better than others in the summer as long as you can find a way to shade your plants to extend lettuce production in the hot summer months.

You can plant seeds as soon as the ground is no longer frozen.  Lettuce seeds can germinate in moderate to cool temperatures with a soil temperature of approx. 70 degrees F.

Lettuce also prefers the soil to be moist at all times.  However, plants grown in really soggy soil will be susceptible to disease or mold, so frequent short waterings may be best for your lettuce.

Planting Lettuce in a Container

Lettuce will not do well with weeds or garden pests such as slugs.  One option is growing lettuce in containers up off the ground and locate them on porches, patios, or even window sills.

This is a great idea for people that do not have a lot of land or prefer easier access to their food supply.

You can also start by planting lettuce seeds indoors several weeks prior to the last frost in your area and then move them outdoors when it gets warmer.



Different Varieties of Lettuce Plants

Buttercrunch Lettuce - this type of lettuce forms a loose head and is a very popular choice for salads because of its chewy and sweet tasting leaves. 

It's considered a "cut and come again" lettuce. 

And it's also heat tolerant and holds up better in hot weather compared to other lettuce varieties.

Jericho Lettuce - this type of lettuce is considered a romaine lettuce and has large thick bright green leaves that grow upright.

This hardy lettuce makes a great salad with its tasty crunchy leaves.

It is also considered a "cut and come again" lettuce and is also heat tolerant.

Red Oak Leaf Lettuce - this type of lettuce is considered a loose leaf lettuce.

Its leaves are a beautiful red color that resemble an oak leaf.

It's another "cut and come again" lettuce and is slow to bolt to flower.

Therefore, it will hold its mild flavor and tender leaves throughout the growing season.

There are hundreds of lettuce varieties, but for the sake of simplicity - lettuce can be categorized as either loose leaf or head lettuce.

Loose leaf lettuce does not form a tight head or ball like head lettuce.  Leaf lettuce is also the easiest to grow and can be used as a "Cut and Come Again" type of lettuce.

These are a few of the more popular and well known lettuce varieties, but also give one of the less known varieties a try every now and then.

Harvesting Lettuce Leaves

How to grow lettuce throughout the growing season is probably best done by planting leaf lettuce as it grows very quickly, so you can plant it throughout the season and be harvesting lettuce continuously throughout the year.

Leaf lettuce can mature in as soon as 6 weeks and are considered "Cut and Come Again" plants.

Therefore, you can harvest leaf lettuce by snipping off the outer leaves as soon as they are large enough for eating or you can take the whole plant by cutting off at about 1 inch above ground level - then let it regrow.

Leaf lettuce can be harvested over a longer period of time when compared to harvesting head lettuce which basically requires you to pull the entire plant from the soil when the heads have reached full size.

Just remember that overly ripened leaf lettuce is not really edible because they have a tendency to get tough and bitter. Also, remember to harvest lettuce early in the morning when the leaves are firmer.

You can then store lettuce leaves in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for a week or two.

Harvesting Lettuce Seeds

You can harvest lettuce seeds any time after the flowers die back and then resemble a dandelion.

Just pick or cut off from the stalk and separate seeds from any debris. Make sure the seeds are completely dry and then store them in a cool dry area until you are ready for planting lettuce again.

Learning how to grow lettuce can be a great pleasure and by growing your own food, you control the quality of your food.  As the saying goes - You are What you Eat!

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