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Lettuce is an extremely popular green leafy vegetable. It’s used around the world for salads, sandwiches, and as an ingredient in many gourmet meals.

If you’ve never grown lettuce before, or are looking for some tips, we’ve got you covered with this quick guide to growing lettuce.

About Growing Lettuce

Several colorful heads of lettuce, red, green, and purple in color, growing in dirt and organic compost.

Lettuce is one of the most ideal plants to grow all year round, with the exception of the hottest summer months.

If you enjoy the idea of plant-to-plate gardening, or simply would like to supplement your groceries with something a bit more healthy than what is available at the supermarket, growing these leafy greens may be right for you.

Below, we discuss everything you need to know about lettuce to start growing it today.

Quick Lettuce Information

How much light is needed:It requires around ten to twelve hours of sunlight per day (six hours of direct sunlight or grow lights is ideal)
How much water is needed:Twice per week, with the exception of the first few weeks when it needs to be watered slightly every day.
Is it best to start with seeds or plants: For early spring, planting as seeds or small plants transplanted directly in the garden, usually in side-by-side rows, is ideal. It is also often planted in seed starters during warm weather during the fall season as well as the cooler weather during the wintertime.
The best month to plant:The best time to plant it is fall or spring (January, February, March, April, September, October, November)
Preferred climate/temperature:The ideal temp for germinating and growing lettuce is 60F to 65F
Is indoor or outdoor growing better:Even though it will grow outdoors just fine, lettuce prefers a stable environment so it might grow better inside as long as it is cared for properly
Do indoor plants need to be pollinated:No need to pollinate lettuce grown indoors (but if you do harvest might be bigger)
Level of difficulty to grow:Low (it’s an easy to grow veggie)
Plant height:It grows between 6 to 12 inches tall.
Time from planting to harvest:Generally, 6 to 8 weeks though some types develop fully in only 30 days

Growing Tips

A few heads of bright green butterhead lettuce growing out of cracked brown earth.

1. Plant from the seeds or small transplants

When the right time comes and you are ready to plant lettuce, picking between planting in the garden, or in the pots, seeds, or transplants, there is no mistake any way you choose to go.

It is an easy growing plant and more than likely it will produce its first batch in a maximum of two months whether started from seeds or transplants.

Leafy green seedlings in hand-made wooden containers.
Lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, and several other leafy greens growing in a mixture of DIY and store-bought containers in our back yard. (spring 2020)

Using pots (any size or shape will work out) will reduce pests tremendously. Even beginners, by following basic instructions, can grow lettuce from seeds successfully.

2. Dont forget to water your plants

Water lettuce preferably in morning hours. If you forget or don’t have time, make sure to do it later in the day rather than waiting until tomorrow.

If plants dry out too much, leaves can become rather bitter, or even worse, they can bolt which means they will produce a flowering stem with seeds way before its time for it.

3. Pick your lettuce taking bit by bit or take all out at one time

Lettuce is a great choice to grow if you are using/eating it regularly. More than likely you can pick a hand full since leaves are very small without taking the whole plant out.

FAQs

What lettuce needs for healthy growth?

  • For a start, take into consideration that lettuce needs a lot of sunlight, so pick the spot in your garden that gets the most sun.
  • Rows need to be 12 to 18 inches apart.
  • In case indoor growth you might add some lights.
  • Enough space between each plant (4 to 8 inches) determines how big they will grow and how much nutrients it will get from the soil.
  • Speaking of soil, it needs to be high quality which can be accomplished by adding a rich compost before planting.
  • Also, dont forget to water lettuce, drained plants will not taste nearly as you wish.

What are the best types of lettuce?

Bright green lettuce growing out of the cracked ground.
Some lettuce growing in one of our new garden beds in the late spring (2020)

We will mention the ones we prefer the most because there are so many varieties to choose from:

Crisphead (L Sativa also known as head or heading lettuce)

This type has a crispy and crunchy texture, not such a strong flavor, and is a great addition to sandwiches and all kinds of salads.

If necessary to choose one type of crisphead lettuce, we pick Iceberg.

Butterhead

The name couldn’t suit it better! It is so soft that is melting in your mouth and has a butter flavor, you just need to love it.

This type can be picked bit by bit and tastes great, good for all kinds of salads and dishes. Our pick would be Yugoslavian red.

Loose leaf

Generally has a little bit of sweet flavor and is textured somewhere in between soft and crispy. It is a very good choice if you prepare lettuce as a side dish, specifically with strong-flavored meals.

It is also pretty resistant to high temperatures and crops will be available longer than other types during summertime.

How long can lettuce stay fresh after I pick it up in the garden?

If not refrigerated it can stay fresh for approximately two hours only. That’s why it needs to go in the fridge immediately after picking and washing.

When you refridgerat it, it’s completely another story. Most types will last from 7 to 10 days but head lettuce is an absolute champion and can stay fresh for between one and three weeks.

A Final Word About Growing Lettuce

A small green lettuce plant growing out of rich brown dirt.

Growing lettuce is well worth it if you love eating it. The best part is that it’s not only easy to grow and takes little effort, but it grows super fast.

From seed to salad dish, you can grow it in 3-5 weeks flat!

Whether for salads or sandwiches, growing your own lettuce at home provides you with a fresh supply every month or two.

In fact, if you staggering your planting schedule, it’s possible to produce fresh lettuce on a weekly basis.

Suggest Reading: GROWING STRAWBERRIES: A QUICK GUIDE

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