Lettuce are a rewarding vegetable to grow at home and an excellent addition to any garden. Below we share the basics of growing lettuce in a home garden, as well as common mistakes and considerations.
Lettuce are a frost tolerant vegetable. This means the best time to plant them is mid to early spring, and mid to late summer for a fall harvest. If you’re expecting a late or early frost after planting, protect your lettuce with a blanket of straw or cover them with plastic buckets.
Plant your lettuce seeds directly in the soil of your garden or container at a depth of 0.5 inches (1 centimetre). Seeds can be planted outside or you can germinate them indoors and transplant them later. Typically, lettuce seeds take about 1 - 2 weeks to fully germinate.
If transplanting, the best time to move lettuce plants outside is when they reach 3 - 4 inches (7 - 10 centimetres) tall or have at least 3 - 4 true leaves.
When planting lettuce in the garden, it’s best to space them 1 - 2 feet (30 - 60 centimetres) away from the nearest plant.
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The key to caring for lettuce in containers is well draining soil and a pot big enough for their root system. Aim for a pot that is roughly 288 cubic inches (4,719 cubic centimetres) in size. Any old flower pots you have lying around should do the trick.
For more in depth information, check out our full guide on growing lettuce in containers.
On average, it takes about 50 - 70 days for planted lettuce seeds to develop into a fully mature plant.
Typically, lettuce plants reach about 8 - 12 inches (20 - 30 centimetres) in height. Though this can fluctuate depending on the variety.
Lettuce need 3 - 6 hours of direct sunlight every day in order to thrive. Be careful to place your plants in an area that receives adequate sunlight. Otherwise, they may not mature properly.
Lettuce like well draining soil that is kept consistently moist, but not wet or soggy. The amount of water it takes to achieve this effect will differ depending on the type of soil available to you.
Be sure to water your lettuce on a consistent, steady schedule. This will ensure the plant yields a healthy, uniform crop.
If growing your lettuce in pots, they will need to be watered more frequently than lettuce planted directly in the garden.
You will know your lettuce are in need of more water when their leaves wilt, yellow, and/or the plant begins to droop. But be careful, this can also happen if the plant receives too much water. This is a difficult balance for most novice gardeners. But the more time you spend with your lettuce, the better you’ll be able to gauge how thirsty they are.
Lettuce are ready to pick their leaves are big enough to eat. Snip the base of the single leaf that you want to remove with a knife or scissors. It’s best to remove the larger outter leaves first, and leave the smaller leaves to pick once they are ready. This way you won’t damage or kill the plant, and it will continue producing lettuce for you.