Growing lettuces from seed is easier and much cheaper than buying the produce from the farmer’s market every time you want to eat your salad.
Lettuce is one of the favorite greens. It is superior in vitamin content and taste. This popular salad green is one of the easiest crops to grow in pots and garden beds.
It grows fast and is ready for picking about a month from planting the seedling. In less than 2 months it forms full heads that are ready for your salad.
Are you ready to learn how to grow lettuce from seeds? It is fairly straightforward to grow these greens. And you can use different methods to achieve this. This guide will show you the best way to do it.
Quick Facts About Lettuce
- Lettuce is a cool-weather crop that is best grown in fall and spring.
- The seeds germinate in low temperatures of about 4 C or 40 F.
- The ideal growing temperature is between 60 to 65 F or 16 to 18 C
- Lettuce requires 6 to 8 hours of direct sun but can also be grown in partial shade with 2-3 hours of sun
- Loose-leaf varieties grow faster than the other types and can grow in low light
- Lettuce does well in pots too because they have a shallow root system
- They do not thrive in frost – frost kills them
- They prefer soil that is around 6.0 to 6.8
Step By Step Guide On Growing Lettuces From Seed
Sow lettuce seeds indoors 4 weeks before transplanting. The seeds germinate in 2 to 10 days or 2 weeks if the soil is too cold. Avoid using soil that is too cold. Keep the soil evenly moist until the seeds germinate and are well established.
If you choose to sow seeds directly in the garden, sow them 4 inches apart. Later on, after germination, thin the seedlings according to the type of lettuce you have planted. Head lettuce leaves them 1- to 12 inches apart, leaf lettuce leaves them 6-9 inches apart. Keep your plants well spaced to allow good air circulation and avoid diseases. For intensive planting, space the plants about 10 inches apart in a staggered pattern.
Once the soil can be worked on, make planting beds that are ¼ to ½ inch deep. Add compost or old manure to planting beds. Compost feeds the soil and aids in moisture retention.
Transplant your lettuce seedlings into the prepared planting beds. Allow them time to grow and in about 2 months you can harvest your lettuce. If you would wish to have an extended harvest, make successive sowing every week.
Avoid planting lettuce where endive, radicchio, artichokes, or escarole have grown recently.
Look out for aphids, cutworms, flea beetle, leaf miners, earwigs, slugs, and snails that attack lettuce. Early spotting of any of these insects helps with early treatment with the right pesticide.
Caring For Lettuce Growing From Seed
Fertilize. Lettuce thrives in soil that is high in organic material with plenty of compost and a good supply of nitrogen. These nutrients make them grow fast. Fertilize your lettuce 3 weeks after transplanting with a slow-release fertilizer or organic alfalfa.
Moisture. Keep the soil moist but not overly wet. Your soil should drain well so that it doesn’t retain water. Lettuce will tell you when it needs water by looking at it. If the leaves show signs of wilt, sprinkle them with water and water them properly. You can use organic mulch to help conserve moisture, suppress weeds and keep the soil temperatures cool during the warm months.
Weeding. If you notice weeds growing, weed by hand if need be. But be careful of damaging the plant’s roots because they are shallow.
- Harvest your lettuce heads when they are full in size just before maturity. The leaves taste fresh when still young and tender.
- Harvest the ready lettuce leaves by removing outer leaves so that the center leaves continue to grow.
- Romaine, Butterhead, and loose-leaf types can be harvested by removing the outer leaves, digging up the whole plant, or cutting the plant an inch above the soil surface.
- If you leave your lettuce to mature, they get woody and bitter and go bad quickly. Check your garden every day to identify lettuces that are ready to be picked.
- Pick your ready lettuce early morning when the leaves are most fresh and crisp before they are exposed to the sun.
- If you harvested through cutting, you can choose to wait for new leaves to grow or plant a second round of seeds.
- Once harvested, keep your lettuce in your refrigerator for about 10 days in a loose plastic bag.
We have equipped you with all the knowledge you need for growing lettuces from seed. You can go ahead and confidently grow these salad darlings and enjoy them as often as you wish.