Spring Garden Tips

Lettuce

Botanical Name

Lactuca sativa

Hardiness

Annual

Height

6 to 24 inches

Width

6 to 24 inches

Light

Full sun to part shade

Soil

Moist, well-drained, rich in organic matter

Planting and Care

Lettuce best germinates in temps between 40 F and 70 F.

Begin sowing in early spring as soon as the ground can be worked. Plant seeds 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep. Seeds need light to germinate so do not plant too deep.

Sow seeds 1 inch apart in rows spaced 12 to 18 inches apart. As the plants develop 2 to 3 true leaves, thin to 4 inches for leaf lettuce, 6 to 8 inches for Butterhead varieties and 10 to 12 inches for Crisphead lettuce varieties. Lettuce can also be broadcast into a patch rather than planting in rows. Thin and space accordingly.

Add trimmed seedlings in salads or sandwiches.

Lettuce can also be started indoors and set in the garden as transplants. Begin sowing 3 to 4 weeks before planting outdoors.

For a continual harvest, repeat sow every 10 to 14 days up until June. Lettuce does not grow well in the heat of summer. Look for more bolt-resistant and heat tolerant varieties for later plantings.

Consistent even moisture is critical to lettuce germination and growth. Lettuce will bolt in high temperatures and dry soil. Mulch soil around plants to retain moisture, moderate soil temperature and suppress weeds.

Use floating row covers to protect plants from insects, cold and the direct heat of the sun as the season warms.

Problems

Aphids, cabbage worms, cabbage loopers, leafminers, damping off, foliage rot

Varieties to Consider

Red Sails - slow to bolt, red leaves, great in containers, ornamental value

Oak Leaf - good hot weather variety

Tom Thumb - Butterhead type, compact 5 to 7", fast growing, heat tolerant

Freckles - ornamental green leaves blotted with red specks, heat tolerant

 

Harvesting

Harvest leaves individually or cut out the entire head.

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