Why would you want to know how to grow lettuce when it is so easily available in the store? Well, if you’ve ever eaten freshly picked home-grown lettuce, you know that there’s a world between the deliciously juicy leaves straight from the garden and the sad, withered ones you might find in a supermarket.
It’s not difficult to grow your own lettuce from seeds, and it doesn’t take long to grow. If you do it right, you can have a fresh supply all summer long.
Read on to find out how to grow lettuce and how to plant and care for iceberg lettuce and other varieties.
See: Ideas for the kitchen garden – easy ways to get started
How long does it take to grow lettuce?
With the right growing conditions, you can plant lettuce seeds and harvest your first leaves in less than six weeks. You can even eat your own lettuce leaves beforehand when you harvest the edible young seedlings instead of throwing them away while thinning out your plants.
Which lettuce is the easiest to grow?
All salads are easy to grow, but loose leaf salads – any variety that doesn’t form a solid heart – are probably the easiest to grow.
Although it takes about 40 days for the plant to mature, you will need to thin out the seedlings to make more room for the mature plants. You can wash and eat the dilution.
Try varieties like Cos ‘Little Gem’ and lettuce ‘All The Year Round’, both of which are good growers and some of TV gardening expert Monty Don’s favorite strains.
What month do you plant lettuce?
You can sow lettuce seeds all year round, sow outside in spring and summer, and grow inside in winter. Since lettuce plants prefer cooler temperatures, it’s best to sow the seeds outdoors from March to August. If you plan to grow and harvest your lettuce in winter, you will need to store it indoors in a warm, bright place, such as on a window ledge.
Should I soak lettuce seeds before planting?
Some gardeners find that germination is more successful by soaking lettuce seeds in cold water for 16-24 hours, but this is not necessary. It is important to barely cover the seed after sowing, a very fine layer of compost is sufficient, as light is required for germination. The germination process can be accelerated in a warm greenhouse or by warming the soil with a fleece before sowing the lettuce seeds to warm them up.
How to sow lettuce seeds
If you are sowing lettuce seeds directly into the ground outdoors, prepare the soil first by digging in plenty of well-rotted garden compost. This reduces the likelihood that salads will “shoot through” (sow) in the hot summer months.
Provide moist, well-prepared soil or compost and sow the seeds thinly. Cover only with a fine layer of compost, as lettuce seeds need light to germinate. They should start to germinate after about 7 days.
Once large enough, thin the seedlings to leave a 10-20 cm gap between plants and mulch around them with well-rotted compost to retain moisture and keep them healthy. You may need to cover seedlings with fleece to protect them from birds.
Instead of sowing all the lettuce seeds at once, try reseeding – repeated sowing at intervals throughout the growing season. If you sow little and often, you won’t end up with an abundance of mature plants all ready to eat at the same time.
Garden writer and photographer Leigh Clapp favors the follow-up planting approach, saying, ‘Lettuce will yield about five months from a seed packet. Sow every two weeks for a continuous harvest. ‘
How often should salad be poured?
How often you have to water depends on how hot or dry the weather is. But the main thing is to evenly water the compost so that the lettuce seedlings do not dry out. Try not to soak the leaves as this can lead to powdery mildew. Thinning the plants to leave space between them helps air circulation and prevents mold.
How do you grow iceberg lettuce?
The classic iceberg crisp salad is a crispy, light-leaf salad with a very firm heart. Now popular again after several decades in the shade of loose leaf varieties, it’s a lot easier to grow than you can imagine.
Like all types of lettuce, it needs good fertile soil, good light and plenty of water and nutrients. Sow about 8-10 seeds in a seedling tray and transplant the seedlings into the ground or into individual pots when they are about 10 cm high.
Icebergs are one of the larger types of lettuce, so you need to keep a distance of 30 cm between the plants in rows.
How do you grow lettuce and come back?
If you prefer a salad made up of different types of lettuce, sliced and recurring lettuce leaves are a good option. You can buy packets of suitable mixed lettuce leaves, which are often fast growing varieties.
Sow the seeds thinly on damp compost in a seed tray.
Sprinkle a fine layer of compost on the seeds and keep them moist. In winter, these can be grown in a tray on a light-colored windowsill.
As the name suggests, simply harvest the larger, outer leaves by cutting with scissors or pinching your fingers so the root and the rest of the plant grow new leaves.
How to grow oak leaf lettuce
Oak leaf lettuce are versatile varieties that can be picked from the leaf or left to mature into a full salad.
Don McCulley from Swallowtail garden seeds says: “Oak leaf lettuce has tender and mild-tasting, deeply lobed leaves that can be picked individually or form dense, curled heads.”
He recommends the ‘Samantha’ and ‘Blushed Icy Oak’ varieties and adds the following general planting recommendation for all varieties: ‘Lettuce is a cold-weather plant that is best planted in spring, when the soil is ready. The fall harvest can be started in cool areas in midsummer or in hot climates in late summer.
Can you grow lettuce in containers?
All salads can be grown successfully in containers. Cut-and-come lettuce works especially well in a shallow seed pan or in a container on a windowsill, where it’s easy to pick when you need a few leaves.
For all types of lettuce in containers, you just need to create the right conditions, as if you were growing them outdoors – fertile soil, enriched with moisture-retaining compost, enough space between the plants, protection from extreme heat do not screw) and extreme cold (so that the frost they does not kill) and of course regular watering.
See: Ideas for small vegetable gardens – from layout designs to the best plants to grow
Common problems when growing lettuce
Snails and snails find tender young lettuce plants irresistible. If you are growing them in containers, protect them by tying sticky copper tape around your pots or using copper tape around the plants.
Alternatively, you can use organic snail pellets or try nematodes – by pouring them into the ground. If none of these methods work, you can go out into the garden with a headlamp in the evening to collect and dispose of slugs and slugs or “relocate” from your plants.
See: How to grow garlic – a step-by-step guide on how to grow cloves
Hot, sunny conditions Although they need light to germinate, lettuce plants thrive better in partially shaded areas of the garden. They prefer cool, moist soil and when conditions are too hot and sunny the plants have a tendency to germinate, so keep this in mind when choosing your spot in the vegetable patch.
mildew Leaving enough space around each lettuce for it to grow to its full size will help circulate air and prevent mold from forming. When watering, be careful not to water the leaves or the heart of the lettuce as this can rot the leaves.