How to Grow Lettuce
In this article, we share a comprehensive guide to growing lettuce at home.
Quick Guide Information
Common Name: Lettuce
Scientific Name: Latuca sativa
Plant Type: Leafy Green
Life Span: Short Lived Annual
Time Till Harvest: 30-60 Days
Light Requirement: Partial Shade to Full Sun
Optimum pH: 6.0 - 7.0
One of the best parts about a garden is having fresh greens for salads. They taste better, feel better, and are as fresh as can be. That's why lettuce is a favorite crop for gardeners who enjoy consuming fresh greens as part of their regular diet. They are also easy to grow and can produce abundantly if cared for properly.
Lettuce typically does best in cool weather during spring and fall, although they do great year round in areas with mild climates. There are also many heat resistant varieties that do great in hot weather, although they may still prefer some shade during the hottest parts of the day. Some heat resistant varieties include Summer Crisp, Jericho, Anuenue, Craquerelle de Midi, Red Sails, Royal Oak Leaf, and Lollo Rossa.
Lettuce is grown from seed and can be planted early in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked.
1. Choose a location with full sun if planting during cooler months or partial shade during the summer.
2. Plant seeds 1 cm deep into loose soil that has been well amended with compost.
3. Traditional spacing is around 10 cm apart, but you can plant much closer, about 3 cm apart. After about 2 weeks thin them 8-10 cm apart depending on variety. Thinned plants can be gently transplanted or eaten.
Planting and Maintenance
Lettuce grows quickly and doesn’t really require much maintenance. The most important thing to do is harvest! If you don’t harvest then the plant will begin bolting and start tasting bitter. This is evident once a central stalk starts forming. At this point you can either leave the plant for seeds, or remove it and replace it with a younger plant.
For harvesting there are different strategies. Some gardeners prefer to harvest entire heads of lettuce at once and immediately replace the plant. Alternatively, you can also cut leaves from the outer base of the plant to keep it alive. This method will extend the life of your plant.
Bolting and Bitter Taste - This is caused by excessive heat or lack of harvesting. If it is not the latter, consider trying a heat resistant variety or planting in a cooler location.
Pests and Disease - Lettuce is quick growing and rarely suffers from pests and disease. If this is the case, it is likely because your climatic conditions are not ideal for lettuce. It can also occur if you have repeatedly grown lettuce in the same soil.
Slow Growth - Either temperatures are too low, or you need to top dress with a bit of compost. Adding mulch can also help address temperature problems. This can also be caused if plants were left in their seedling trays for too long and became rootbound before transplanting.