Lettuce Growing Guide
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Lettuce Growing Guide

Growing Lettuce in your Garden

The taste of a homegrown lettuce is unlike anything store-bought and is more densely packed with Vitamin A! This easy to grow cool season crop is a garden staple for beginners and experts alike.

There are hundreds of varieties of lettuce, falling into four main categories:

  • Crisphead: This lettuce type has a crisp texture and firm head. Iceberg is an example of a cripshead lettuce.
  • Butterhead: This variety also forms a head but is a softer texture.
  • Looseleaf: This lettuce forms in a bunch rather than a head. It can regrow from a cut stem without losing its taste or texture.
  • Romaine/ Cos: This is a lettuce variety that grows upright with long, narrow leaves.

When To Plant Lettuce

Lettuce is a cool-season crop that can be direct seeded or grown from transplants. The optimal soil temperature for growing lettuce is between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, warmer temperatures may cause your lettuce to bolt. It should be started 4-6 weeks before your last spring frost or 6-8 weeks before the first fall frost. For transplants, start planting between 2-4 weeks before your last spring frost and 2-4 weeks after your first fall frost.

Did you know?

Adding an Organic Mulch around the plants will help retain moisture, suppress weeds and keep solid temperatures cool throughout warmer months.

Our Favorite Lettuce To Grow

Lettuce Plant Spacing

Row Spacing- 12 inches to 24 inches

Planting Depth- 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch
Transplant at soil level

Plant Spacing:
Looseleaf: 4-8 inches
Romaine/ Cos & Butterhead: 8-12 inches
Crisphead: 12-16 inches

For a continuous harvest, sow or transplant additional seeds every 2 weeks.

Lettuce Soil, Irrigation & Fertilizer

Soil Requirements To Grow Lettuce

  • Loose, well-draining soil
  • PH between 6.0-7.0
  • Rich in organic materials
  • Good quality compost added to the soil

When Direct Sowing, make sure you are planting in well-tilled soil as stones and large clumps of dirt can inhibit germination.

Lettuce Irrigation Requirements

Lettuce plants require 1-2 inches of water per square foot per week.Using drip irrigation is always recommended to be sure that your cabbage plants are getting moisture directly to their root system. If you’re using conventional overhead watering techniques, try and use something like the Dramm Watering Canand water and fertilize at the base of the plant to keep moisture off the leaves. You can also mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture.

Raised Bed Fertilizer Schedule

Step One: Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

Step Two: 1 Week Before Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 7.0, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

Step Three: 2 Weeks After Planting

Sidedress 2 cups of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per 10 ft. of row.

Step Four: 3 Weeks After Planting

Mix 1 tablet each of Dr. Joe All Purpose and 1 tablet of Dr. Joe Nutri Bubble into 1 gallon of water. Apply as a drench per 4 plants.

Step Five: Alternate Between Steps Three and Four Every 7 Days.

In-Ground Fertilizer Schedule

Step One: Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

Step Two: 1 Week Before Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 7.0, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

Step Three: 2 Weeks After Planting

Using the Hoss Fertilizer Injector, Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium 20-20-20 Fertilizer -AND -1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. of row.

Step Four: 3 Weeks After Planting

Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium Calcium Nitrate -AND -1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. of row.

Step Five: Alternate Between Steps Three and Four Every 14 Days.

Lettuce Pest & Disease Protection

Insects

Organic Controls

Garden Insect Spray
Aphids, Slugs/ Snails, Whiteflies

Horticulture Oil
Aphids, Whiteflies

Bug Buster-O
Aphids, Cutworms, Whiteflies

Take Down Garden Spray
Aphids, Whiteflies

Diatomaceous Earth
Aphids, Cutworms, Slugs/ Snails, Whiteflies

Neem Oil
Aphids, Cutworms, Whiteflies

Sluggo Plus
Cutworms, Slugs/ Snails

Non-Organic Controls

Bug Buster II
Aphids, Cutworms, Whiteflies

Common Diseases

Complete Disease Control
Lettuce Mosalc Virus, Powdery Mildew, White Mold

Hi-Yield Fungicide
Powdery Mildew. Downey Mildew

Harvesting, Preserving & Storing Lettuce

Harvesting Lettuce

It is best to harvest lettuce in the morning, the heat of the day can cause the leaves to wither. Be sure to harvest your lettuce is young and tender, mature leaves will take on a bitter and woody flavor.

There are many ways to harvest your lettuce depending on the varieties that you have planted. You can harvest Butterhead, Romaine and looseleaf by removing the outer leaves, digging up the plant or cutting the plant 1 inch above the soil line. Crisphead can be picked from the center of the plant when the head is firm.

Storing Lettuce

Lettuce can be stored in the refrigerator in a loose plastic bag for up to 10 days after harvest. When ready to use, place the lettuce in cold water for a few minutes then dry. If your lettuce leaves become withered, place the leaves in cold ice bath for 15 minutes.

Shop All Lettuce Varieties

Lettuce Growing Tips & Tricks

Companion Planting

Companion Planting can serve as a great way to boost efficiency in your garden and even deter pests. Consider planting your lettuce seeds among your warm-season vegetables such as tomatoes. When your lettuce is ready for harvest in early summer, the warm-season vegetable will grow into the extra space. Planting chives or garlic between your lettuce rows can help combat aphids!

How To Prevent Bolting

Bolting is a common issue with growing lettuce plants, particularly in warmer climates, where temperatures exceed 70 degrees. In order to delay bolting, cover the plants with a shade cloth so that the plants can receive filtered ligths. Planting lettuce in the shade of your taller plants can also help reduce bolting.

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