Many gardeners and salad lovers have wondered how to grow lettuce from seed. This classic salad green is one of the most foolproof crops to cultivate in raised beds and containers, and it’s perfect for harvesting in the early spring and with your fall crops.
It’s also a fast-growing crop, with baby greens ready to harvest about a month after seeding and full lettuce heads in two months or less. Growing lettuce from seed is a worthy project with a tasty payoff.
If you enjoy a delicious salad bowl or some crunchy iceberg lettuce on your sandwiches, the expense of lettuce at the supermarket rapidly mounts up. Producing homegrown leafy greens is a simple way to save money on groceries while getting months of organic looseleaf lettuce from your home garden.
Tips for Growing Lettuce from Seed
If you love salad and have wondered how to plant lettuce seeds, rest assured the answers are simple and homegrown lettuce is just a few easy tips away.
Planting lettuce from seed is an excellent way to ensure you always have fresh leafy greens on hand. Lettuce is a relatively simple crop to grow in your home garden and is a healthy food option.
Types of Lettuce
After learning how to grow lettuce from seed, decide which variety of lettuce seeds to grow. Many gardeners choose looseleaf varieties because they develop quickly and are harvestable for weeks; however, there are different types of lettuce seeds with varying tastes.
Choose lettuce seeds based on your intended use for the vegetable and your garden space. It’s just as easy to grow romaine lettuce in your garden as it is any other type.
How to Grow Lettuce from Seed – Location
Find a location with at least six to eight hours of full sun to grow superb lettuce. Growing lettuce in partial shade (about four hours of sunlight) is possible, but in low light plant looseleaf types, which grow quicker than heading varieties.
After you’ve chosen your site, dig in a few inches of compost or organic matter to ready the garden beds for planting. Lettuce is also an excellent container plant. It has a shallower root system and thrives in window boxes, garden beds, pots, or four or more inches wide vessels.
How to Plant Lettuce Seeds
Gardeners plant lettuce in two ways. The first is transplanting lettuce seedlings after being inside with grow lights or acquired from a nursery directly in the garden or containers. For indoor seed germination, grow lettuce seeds inside a plastic bag to help create an optimal environment.
The second is to direct sow and seed heads of lettuce two inches apart in rows, spacing rows 12-18 inches apart, depending on the type. Seeds require light for germination, so don’t sow them too deep and apply a thin layer of garden soil.
When you are following the way to plant lettuce seedlings, thin them to about 12 inches once they have established a sound root system. Sow the seeds in bands for a crop of young lettuce. Build tight bands of four inches in width or larger bands to accommodate your space. Plants for baby lettuce heads grow best at 6-8 inches apart.
This method also works well with romaine lettuce plants, resulting in compact heads only six to eight inches tall. Cultivate a single variety in this manner, or buy a packet of gourmet lettuce seeds for a tasty array of leafy greens.
Care When Planting Lettuce Seeds
Lettuce is an annual vegetable and is simple to tend. This cool weather crop has a growing season in spring and fall; lettuce plants thrive in temperatures of 60 to 70°F.
Consistent moisture is essential for a high-quality crop of soft, mild-tasting lettuce. Mulch helps to keep the soil moist. When lettuce plants experience stress from heat or dehydration, the leaves become bitter, and lettuce plants undergo bolting – the plants move from producing true leaves to bloom development, and a flower stalk appears.
Protect your iceberg lettuce seedlings from extremes of cold and hot weather. Use row covers or a cold frame before the last frost or unexpected temperature drops. Suspend them directly above the entire plant or hang from hoops above.
Shadecloth delays bolting by a week or two by reducing the heat and sunlight reaching your lettuce plants in unexpected hot weather.
There’s no need to fertilize your fast-growing lettuce if you add organic matter to the garden soil before planting. If not, enrich the earth using this simple manure tea recipe.
Combine and pour onto the soil to fertilize your growing lettuce crop.
Pests to Avoid When Planting Lettuce from Seed
Aphids are a prevalent lettuce pest. These soft-bodied insects feed on the fluids of the outer leaves, causing them to curl or distort. You may also find other bugs on lettuce that you need to eliminate quickly.
Because lettuce plants proliferate, a minor infestation is usually not a significant issue. If your lettuce plants have an aphid infestation, use a DIY spray to eliminate the insects and eggs.
Spray or wipe the mixture across the plant’s leaves, stems, and buds for a low-toxicity bug-killing solution to desiccate the aphids’ fragile bodies and kill them without harming your plants.
Harvesting after Growing Lettuce from Seed
Once you’ve grasped how to plant lettuce seeds and have a big crop growing in your garden, it’s time to harvest lettuce. Harvest lettuce in a variety of ways.
When you are harvesting leaf lettuce, it’s easy to pick individual young leaves or the entire plant to harvest as a baby green. As the plants grow, harvest the outer leaves of looseleaf or headed kinds selectively. Harvest the whole head by slicing it off an inch above the garden soil.
If you’ve ever eaten fresh cut homegrown lettuce, you’ll know the difference between the wonderfully succulent leaves right from the garden and what you find in the grocery store.
It’s simple to start growing lettuce from seed, and it doesn’t take very long for your plants to mature. Growing lettuce at home is fun and rewarding, making it a great addition to your garden.
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