Growing Leaf Lettuce
Leaf lettuce is a fun and easy vegetable to grow. It does well both in containers and in the ground. It will thrive in either full sun or partial shade. You don't have to wait long to get a harvest from leaf lettuce, and it will keep growing so long as the temperatures are right.
Plant leaf lettuce in early spring when the days are cool and short. As soon as the ground can be worked, you can sow lettuce seed. Choose a site that gets partial to full sunlight, and has well-draining soil. Plant lettuce successionally every two weeks throughout the growing season so you always have some ready to harvest.
Things you’ll need:
- Planting Bed
- Garden Spade
- Lettuce Seed
Preparing the Ground
Prepare the site by working the soil until it is fluffy and free of most debris. Remove any mulch and weeds before planting. Water the bed before planting and let the soil soak in the moisture to ensure fast germination.
To keep the plant well fertilized through the season, topdress the bed with 1-2 inches of finished and screened compost. You shouldn’t have to add any additional nutrients for your lettuce plants to be healthy.
Lettuce seeds are very small, and difficult to deal with one by one. It’s easier to broadcast seed, particularly since leaf lettuce grows well packed together. Sprinkle the seeds across the bed and cover them with 1/4 inch of soil or compost. Water them in thoroughly.
Caring for Leaf Lettuce
Seedlings will begin to pop out of the ground in about 10 days. Regular watering is all they will need as they grow. Keep an eye on the plants for pest damage, signs of burn, or wilted leaves. These are indicators of common garden problems.
Lettuce needs to stay below 75° F (24° C) to prevent it from bolting. This is why the cooler spring and fall seasons are better for growing it. On hot days, your plants may need protection from sun and high temperatures. Use shade cloth or plant lettuce amidst taller companions that will shield them from harsh heat.
Leaf lettuce can be harvested at any stage before it flowers. Cutting it at between 3-4 inches tall at around 25 days will give a baby leaf harvest. Otherwise wait until you are ready to eat it, or harvest when it looks mature but not yet tough. Harvest lettuce early in the morning, before the warmth of the sun hits the plants.
What you’ll need:
- Cold water
Cut the leaves, leaving about an inch sticking out of the soil. Plunge them into a buck of ice cold water for 20 minutes. After soaking them, dry them off and store in the fridge for up to three weeks. Leave the plants in the ground to regrow, and you can cut another harvest in three to four weeks.