- Germination Days: 7-14
- Hardiness Zones:4-9
- Planting Depth:1/2"
- Plant Spacing:4”
- Row Spacing:12”
- Growth Habit:Upright
- Soil Preference:Loose, well-drained, compost. 6.0-7.0 pH
- Temp Preference:Cooler to warm
- Light Preference:Full sun to partial shade
- Days to Maturity:55 days
Two things to do before sowing seeds: select a sunny spot and make sure the soil is well prepared.
The soil should be loose and drain well so it’s moist without staying soggy. To keep the soil fertile, feed it with composted organic matter about one week before you seed or transplant. Since the seed is so small, a well-tilled seedbed is essential. Stones and large clods of dirt will inhibit germination. Lettuce does not compete well with weeds. Before you plant, ensure the ground is prepared. Rotating locations from year to year helps control most diseases. Closely spaced plants will help control weeds.
- Recommended direct sowing as soon as the ground can be worked. You may start seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before your last spring frost for an early harvest.
- Lettuce seeds can be planted when the soil temp reach above 40° F. Seeds germinate best when the temp is between 55 to 65° F.
- Seeds should be planted 1/4 – 1/2 inch deep and thinned when plants have 3 to 4 true leaves.
- Transplants should be planted close to last spring frost-free date.
- Transplants should have at least 4 mature leaves and a well-developed root system before planting out.
- Water thoroughly at time of transplanting.
- Consider planting companion / barrier plants (chives or garlic) to control aphids.
- Fertilize 3 weeks after transplanting. Lettuce prefers soil that is high in organic material, with plenty of compost and a steady supply of nitrogen to keep if growing fast. Use organic alfalfa meal or a slow-release fertilizer.
- Make sure the soil remains moist but is well drained.
- Lettuce will tell you when it needs water. Just look at it. If the leaves are wilting, sprinkle them anytime—even in the heat of the day to cool them off and slow down the transpiration rate.
- An organic mulch will help conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and keep soil temperatures cool throughout the warmer months.
- Weed by hand if necessary, but be careful of damaging your lettuce plants’ roots; they are shallow.
- Plan your garden so that lettuce will be in the shade of taller plants, such as corn or tomatoes may reduce bolting in the heat of the summer.
- You should be able to sow additional lettuce seeds every two weeks for a continuous harvest throughout the growing season.
- To plant a fall crop, create cool soil in August by moistening the ground and covering it with a bale of straw. A week later, the soil under the bale will be about 10°F cooler than the rest of the garden. Sow a three-foot row of lettuce seeds every couple of weeks—just rotate the straw bale around the garden.
Pests / Diseases
- White mold
- Lettuce should be harvested when full size, but just before maturity. The leaves taste best when they’re still young and tender.
- Before maturity, you can harvest leaf lettuce by simply removing outer leaves so that the center leaves can continue to grow.
- Butterhead or romaine types can be harvested by removing the outer leaves, digging up the whole plant, or cutting the plant about an inch above the soil surface. A second harvest is often possible when using the first or third methods.
- Mature lettuce gets bitter and woody and will go bad quickly, so check your garden every day for ready-to-harvest leaves.
- It’s best to harvest lettuce in the morning before leaves have been exposed to sun.