Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

When to Plant

Lettuce germinates and grows well in the cool weather of the spring and fall. Lettuce can be planted directly into garden once danger of frost has passed and also sown in late summer for a fall crop. Lettuce can also be started indoors in early spring and transplanted into the garden once leaves are 2.5-5 cm (1-2”) tall.

Location/Soil

Lettuce can be grown in most locations but does best in rich, well drained soil.

Planting & Growing Information

Sow seeds 13 mm (1/2″) deep and 2.5 cm (1″) apart. Rows should be spaced 45 cm (18″) apart. Seedlings can be thinned out to approximately 20 cm (8”) apart.

A row can be as simple as single row or can be in a band up to 30 cm (12”) wide. The wide row option allows for an easier scattering of seeds at time of planting and is a nice way to mix several varieties together when planting for a colorful tasty mixture.

Seeds germinate in approximately 7-10 days.

Days to Maturity

From date directly sown in garden. Transplanted lettuce plants will be ready one to two weeks earlier depending on conditions.

Other Information

In hot weather lettuce can go to seed quickly (bolt). It’s easy to tell when a plant has bolted, because it will send out long shoots topped by flowers that will eventually contain seeds.
Successive planting will provide a continual lettuce harvest.

Young leaves are wonderful and tasty salad greens.

Adequate moisture is essential for the production of crisp and tender leaves.

A steady supply of moisture is critical in head lettuce when heads are forming.

Leaf lettuce is an excellent addition to containers – it looks and tastes great. Just trim back when ready for some lettuce and let grow up again.

Harvesting & Storage

Harvest in the morning when leaves are crisp and full of moisture.

Leaf lettuce can be cut off at ground level, allow it to grow again for a second crop.

Lettuce stored in the refrigerator will stay crisp for 2-3 days.

Companion Planting

Likes: Carrots, radishes, strawberry

Lettuce Examined

Butterhead – This type of lettuce received its name because the leaves have a buttery smooth texture. These tender, cupped leaves work beautifully in salads. Butterhead varieties form a loose-leaf head with thicker leaves than other common lettuce varieties.

Head – Head lettuce varieties are recognized by their compact round head of leaves and are often the mildest in taste. They produce firm heads with a crisp texture and crunchy taste.

Leaf – Leaf lettuce varieties produce leaves in a bunch instead of a head. They grow the fastest and are often preferred by people who wish to grow vegetables at home. Leaf lettuce re-sprouts from a cut stem without losing quality in flavor or texture.

Romaine – Romaine lettuce is also known as cos lettuce. It is an upright plant that forms narrow, elongated leaves that grow outwards. It is the most nutritious lettuce with a wonderful crispy texture.

Mesclun – Mesclun (meaning mixed) is a mixture of greens. Typically composed of several varieties of young greens and harvested when the leaves reach the desired size of approximately 8-15 cm (3-6”) Some mixtures are called “spicy” meaning that they have more arugula, watercress, mizuna, and mustard leaves to add some tangy zip!