It is almost spring and that means you can start growing lettuce in containers or your backyard garden right now. From iceberg lettuce to gourmet salad greens, learn how to grow lettuce in the garden for a spring full of delicious salads!
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When should you plant lettuce in the garden?
If you love a delicious salad or enjoy some greenery on your sandwich, you need to learn how to grow lettuce in the garden. Sure, you may think it’s still winter but spring will be here before you know it. Lettuce loves cool weather and if you wait too long to plant lettuce in the garden, the weather will be too hot once the plant reaches maturity.
Hot days mean wilted lettuce and that is not tasty at all. Lettuce is incredibly versatile and can be used in a lot of different ways. Unfortunately, when I buy lettuce from the grocery store, it almost always wilts before I get around to using the whole amount. Growing lettuce in the garden may take a small amount of effort on your part, however, you will be provided with an endless supply of fresh lettuce throughout the entire spring.
How to Grow Lettuce in the Garden
Here are a few tips I have learned over the last few years about how to grow lettuce in your own back yard. Check out my post on how to ensure a productive spring garden before you get started. If you are going to use pest control on your edible garden plants, make sure you choose a safe product like diatomaceous earth.
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Should you start lettuce from seed?
If you are trying to be as frugal as possible, you can start lettuce from seed. You will have the most luck if you start the seeds indoors in a sterile seed sprouting mix and then thin the plants before setting them outside.
Honestly, I do not have that much patience. My local nursery carries about 8 different varieties of lettuce plants in tiny little 6 count trays. Yes, this adds a cost to your gardening effort but the time needed is significantly less and your success rate will be much higher. If you want to try growing from seed, you can buy non-GMO lettuce seeds on Amazon.
Products for growing lettuce that might come in handy
- Check out the lettuce growing kits on Amazon for everything in one place!
- Get a shallow garden tray if you don’t have a lot of space for a garden bed
- How about a lettuce cookbook! Did you know you can get entire cookbooks full of lettuce recipes?
- Don’t forget about a salad spinner to wash and dry your fresh lettuce leaves!
Growing lettuce in the shade
Lettuce does not need to ripen or make an edible root. It is the type of plant that will grow successfully in partial shade. I find that it is best for the plants to get lots of morning sun when it is still cool and get more shade in the afternoon.
Do you need to grow lettuce in a garden bed?
When you are learning how to grow lettuce in the garden, keep in mind that you do not need a garden plot to actually grow it. A large, shallow tray will work just as well. Lettuce does not have a deep or extensive root system so growing it in pots works just fine. You may want to consider some sort of fencing to keep animals out of the garden. Bunnies LOVE fresh lettuce!
Watch the spacing on lettuce plants
Your lettuce plants need plenty of room to ‘breath’ and you don’t want them overcrowded. When plants get overcrowded, water lingers where it shouldn’t and then slugs and other pests take over residence. Make sure to follow the spacing direction on the package of seeds or plants you choose to buy. Check out my DIY earwig traps and my post on how to get rid of snails if pests are a problem.
How to water lettuce plants
You want your plants to stay as dry as possible. Make sure your water your lettuce early in the morning and allow it time to dry out all day before the sun goes down and the slugs and snails come out. You will need to keep it well watered or the leaves will quickly wilt.
Choose your lettuce varieties carefully:
I never have luck with ‘head’ lettuce but ‘leaf’ lettuce works wonderfully in my yard. When learning how to grow lettuce in the garden, choose a few lettuce varieties the first year and record your results. Depending on your location, some varieties will do much better than others. I love the red and green leafy lettuces, arugula, and Romaine.
Know when to plant lettuce for best results
Lettuce is an early spring crop, meaning you need to plant it as soon as the chance of frost has passed. I actually recommend planting lettuce even if there IS a small chance of frost and then just cover it at night with a sheet if it is going to be particularly cold.
Growing lettuce in the garden can save you money and make it easier to include fresh greenery in your diet. You can grow it on an apartment patio or a large garden bed in the backyard. Just make sure you pick your lettuce early in the morning for maximum ‘crunch’ and pick it regularly. The more you use, the more your lettuce plants will produce! Will you be growing lettuce in the garden this spring? Love getting started early on your spring garden? Check out my post about the best food crops to plant in spring for 5 other plants that should be planted soon!
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.