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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tips for Growing Lettuce

Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a beginning gardener, lettuce should be grown in your garden. Fresh cut lettuce straight from the garden is perfect for a fresh salad!

Different varieties of Bibb lettuce
Lettuce is super easy to grow! It takes up little space and has a fast maturity rate from seed to harvest.
Lettuce can be grown for many weeks in the cooler weather months in Spring and Fall. Or continue to grow it in the Summer months by planting a heat tolerant lettuce.

Muslin Mix Leaf Lettuce 

Here are some easy basic tips for growing lettuce.

- Planting Times. In the Spring lettuce seed can be planted as early as about a month before the last frost, if the soil is warm enough to work. In the Summer months, plant a heat tolerant variety. For Fall months, plant lettuce seed about 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost. Lettuce likes temperatures from 45 to 80 degrees depending the variety. If it is too warm for the lettuce, it will bolt and will taste bitter. So be sure to plant a heat tolerant lettuce if wanting to grow it in the Summer months. 

- Location. Lettuce grows fastest when planted in full sun. It will tolerate partial shade also. Plant some onions, tomatoes, kale, and carrots along with lettuce in a pot and have a nice container garden as well!

- Moisture. Plant lettuce in a moist and well drained environment. For the most tender leaves, water regularly during dry weather. When watering heads of lettuce, water at the ground instead of overhead to prevent water from being trapped in the head and create bad areas in the lettuce head. 

- Types of Lettuce. There are several types of lettuce. 
.Leaf lettuce  - which is ready to eat any size. Simply cut the leaves and enjoy. Leaf lettuce is called "cut and come again" vegetable, as you harvest the leaves by cutting them off and then more will grow. You can cut baby leaves for the most tender salads, or cut them when they are bigger. 

.Romaine lettuce - when this lettuce is full size it forms and a clump of upright leaves. 

.Bibb lettuce - or butterhead is another name. This type of lettuce forms a loose head that can be picked any time, but for it to be full size, it will be about 6 inches in diameter. 

.Iceberg lettuce  - forms a head of lettuce. Cut lettuce off at ground level when harvesting. 

Seeding/Planting. Direct sow lettuce seed in the ground. As it grows be sure to watch out for any weeks that may come up and pull them from preventing to grow. Work up the ground where you want to plant your lettuce. Sow the lettuce seed by simply sprinkling it over the area. Lightly brush the top of the soil to cover the seed. 
Lettuce seed can also be planted in to pots as starts and transplanted later as it has grown bigger. 
Create a kitchen garden by planting lettuce, onion sets, radishes, spinach, and kale together in a container and create a container garden. 

- End of Season. If it gets too hot for the lettuce plant it will start to bolt and go to seed. If this is just starting to happen you can harvest the leaves and store in the refrigerator and it will take away some of the bitterness. If the lettuce plant has bolted too far, simply pull up the plant, as it will be bitter to eat.

There's nothing better than a fresh homegrown salad! Be sure to plant some lettuce in your garden!

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