For a market garden, you will get more income for leaf and lettuce crops per square foot of garden space.
Early spring is a great time to plant your lettuce seeds. Lettuce likes the cooler temps, generally 40 to 60 degrees F. In warmer climates, you can likely grow lettuce until it reaches about 80 degrees F. If you plant seeds in the spring, you should try to get started at least a month before the hot weather hits your area. You can also plant in the late summer for a fall harvest.
We make a shallow furrow, and sprinkle in the seeds. Then we cover with the slightest dusting of potting soil to help hold moisture. Some seeds need light to germinate, so don't bury those kind of seeds.
You should see seedlings sprouting in 7 to 10 days. When your lettuce is about 1 to 2 inches high, you should thin the plants a bit so that there is about eight inches of space between each other. If you want to have lettuce growing throughout the season, you can plant different types every few weeks (about 10 to 14 days apart). This is called successive planting. (web)
Planting Record 2012
This late winter, we noticed some small lettuce volunteer plants coming up from the Black Seed Simpson leaf lettuce patch. Last year we allowed the patch to go to seed, and new plants were growing even though there was snow outside. When we could work the soil, we transplanted these into a lettuce bed, and they filled the bed of 4' by 60'. We have been eating this lettuce all spring, and it is just now starting to rise up getting ready to bolt. For the past week or so, we have noticed this lettuce becoming a bit bitter as our temperatures have been rising.
From this experience, we can see that lettuce can really grow early in the season!
On May 21 we planted 5 rows in the woods consisting of:
- Lettuce Sangria MTO
- Lettuce Beleah Rose
- Lettuce Cimmaron
- Romaine Lettuce Red Amish Deer Tongue
- Romaine Lettuce Parris Island
As of June 10, we can conclude that we waited too long to plant in the woods, or that our woods are too dark. There are some small weeds growing, but the lettuce planted does not seem to be doing well.
Lettuce can be attacked by a variety of insects and animals. I have seen small lettuce plants in a green house covered by aphids. Insecticidal soap can be effective deterrent for aphids.
Rabbits and deer could also be attracted to your offering of salad. Fencing is suggested if animal pressure is high.
We suggest you harvest in the early part of the day. I think lettuce plants are crisper and a bit sweeter in the early morning as compared to afternoon harvests. Cool lettuce quickly and store them in a cool location. The crop should be cleaned, and then dried to prevent spoilage.
- Pests of Lettuce (web)