Thursday, February 9, 2012

Planting Lettuce

Lettuce is one of my favorite veggies to plant in my garden. You can harvest them early, and a homegrown salad just hits the spot. We have had an unseasonably warm winter, so I decided that I am going to go ahead and plant my lettuce now and cover with the row cover. Here is some instructions on how to plant lettuce. Happy Gardening!

There are two different types of lettuces that can be grown in the garden.  Varieties produce better leaf lettuces, and those that produce better heads (All varieties, if left to grow, will eventually produce a head).  Both can be sown indoors 4 weeks before transplanting in mid-spring, or directly sown outdoors when soil is ready to work.  Leaf lettuces that will be harvested continuously are best sown directly outdoors and thinned to ½ inch (1.25 cm) apart in long rows.  Head lettuce should be planted in diamond patterns to maximize space, giving between 8 to12 inches (20 to 30 cm) between plants.

Lettuce is a cool, weather plant and can be planted early in the garden.  It can tolerate light frost, but should be protected with row cover when temperatures dip below 30 degrees F (-1 degree C).  Plant seeds every 2 weeks for a constant supply of young lettuce leaves or continuous harvest of heads.

Lettuce should be grown quickly to ensure the leaves are sweet and don’t grow bitter. Prepare the soil in the fall by turning in 1 inch (2.5 cm) of good compost.  Fertilize every few weeks after transplanting with a good, nitrogen rich fertilizer. 

Lettuce should be watered lightly in early spring, until warm temperatures dry the soil.  Keep soil moist from that point, but not wet.  Lettuce has shallow roots, so cover lightly with mulch 2 inches (5 cm) deep.  It is also best to plant with other vegetables that will offer some shade in the hot, summer months.