With Sharon Peterson
How to grow lettuce. Early spring means growing lettuce spinach and other cold hardy crops. I just love getting out and starting a vegetable garden. It means winter is over and warms days are here!
Well actually it means warm days are here… for today. I n Colorado, it might snow tomorrow. Lettuce can handle those cold temperatures as long as there is not a hard frost. I look forward to those early sprouts!
Basics of How to Grow Lettuce
When to sow indoors – Not recommended.
When to sow outdoors – Early spring as soon as soil can be worked.
Seed Depth – 1/4 inch
Days to Germination – 7-14
Seed Spacing – Leaf lettuce 1/2-1″, Head lettuce 8″ See package directions
Light Requirements – Best full sun, will tolerate light shade
Watering – Light to moderate, keep evenly moist
Good Companions – Carrot, Garlic, Onion, Radishes.
Bad Companions – None! Lettuce goes with most anything.
The tricky task of sewing lettuce.
Lettuce should be planted as early in the spring as the soil is workable. Workable just means loosen the soil with either a tiller or a shovel.
The easiest way to sow lettuce is to simply scatter it on loose dirt and then run your hand over it mixing the seeds in with the top layer of dirt. Lettuce must have sun to germinate so you don’t want it very deep.
A great hint is to sow marigolds in with your lettuce. Marigolds repel aphids. I abhor aphids! Aphids are tiny little bugs that suck the juice out of your plant. They multiply quickly!
Keep the soil moist so the tiny little plants can push through and grow. Especially if you have soil like mine. Clay soil will get a hard crust when dry and will choke out your seeds.
It is imperative if you are gardening in clay soil that you keep your soil moist! That means everyday watering. Sometimes several times a day at first.
Once the plants have sprouted you need to keep them evenly moist but not soggy.
There are 2 ways to harvest lettuce.
Continuous picking of the outer leaves as soon as they are big enough to eat.
Or harvest the whole plant. Cut the plant back about 1-2 inches from the ground. It will come back and grow new leaves!
I usually start out harvesting the larger leaves. I keep my kitchen supplied with salad greens. Inevitably the plants get ahead of me and I will start harvesting whole plants. I then have enough to share with neighbors and friends.
I need to work on the whole consecutive planting idea. Plant a smaller amount of lettuce, wait about 2 weeks and then plant a new crop. By the time the first crop is done the second should be ready. This can be done throughout the season.
When lettuce bolts the harvest is over. A stem will begin forming at the center of the plant. At that point the leaves will grow bitter. Either pull the plant and plant some new seed. Or let the plant bolt and it will form seed heads. Collect the seeds, store in a paper sack for next years garden!
I know this is a canning and preserving site… but I’m here to tell you, eat your lettuce now! It doesn’t store for longer than about a week or so in the refrigerator.
Canning, freezing or dehydrating just doesn’t work.
Hardier greens like spinach or swiss chard can be stored, but not lettuce.
So eat it up! Share it. Learn to plant consecutively! :0)