Lettuce is a great crop for home gardeners to grow. It is a very popular vegetable. It is easy to grow and it grows very fast. In this post, I will explain all the steps to grow lettuce at home from seeds.
What Are The Best Varieties Of Lettuce To Grow At Home?
There are hundreds of lettuce’s varieties are available to grow at home. The most popular one is the iceberg variety. Iceberg is sold head variety. You can also choose to grow loosehead varieties, Bib lettuce varieties, Leaf lettuce varieties, and Romaine lettuce varieties.
From all these awesome varieties of lettuce, Bib lettuce, and loosehead varieties are an excellent choice for beginner home gardeners. Because Bib and loosehead varieties are very fast-growing and easy to grow at home.
What Is The Best Time To Sow The Seeds Of Lettuce?
The time depends on the method of your choice. You can sow directly in the soil of the garden (raised bed or anywhere you want) or you can sow seeds in a seed tray and then transplant the seedlings.
If you wanted to sow the seeds in the seed tray, you can sow them indoors 7 to 8 weeks before the last frost. It will give you a heads up of a few weeks.
If you wanted to grow directly in your raised bed or garden soil, you should sow the seeds of lettuce 4 weeks before the last frost. But if your soil is covered with snow, you should delay sowing seeds or planting seedlings. Lettuce can handle a frost, so don’t wait until after the last frost date to plant.
How To Sow The Seeds Of Lettuce In Seed Trays?
You can sow seeds in seed trays or you can small containers like disposable glass. As I mention before sow the seeds 7 to 8 weeks before the last frost.
First, fill your seed tray with all-purpose compost (great for germination of seeds) or you can make your own soil for a seed tray. Here is the recipe of soil for seed germination:
- 60% coco peat or coco coir
- 40% organic compost
Mix these ingredients in a container and then fill your seed tray or glasses with this recipe. Now sow the seeds of lettuce in each hole of the seed tray. If the seeds are new, one seed in each hole is enough, but if seeds are old, 2 to 3 seeds can do the trick.
After sowing the seeds, water them thoroughly. Lettuce seeds love good moisture levels in the soil, but damp soil can kill your seeds. So Do not let the soil fully dry and do not overwater it.
Put your seed tray in front of a window, that gets plenty of direct sunlight or you can use artificial light. LED grow lights will do wonders for your seeds. Here is a guide to buying LED grow lights:
How To Sow Seeds In Garden Soil Or Raised Bed?
You can so the seeds directly in the soil. I already mention the best time to sow seeds, four weeks before last expected frost. Lettuce can take the last frost, so you don’t have to wait for the last frost to pass.
Firstly, you should amend your soil before sowing the seeds. Lettuce loves a pH of 6.5 to 7 in soil. If you are growing in a raised bed, add some organic compost or fully decomposed manure in the raised bed soil and mix it.
If you are new in raised bed gardening, here are few guides about raised bed gardening that might help you:
- Best Raised Bed Gardening Soil Mix Recipe
- How To Start Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening For Beginners?
- How To Keep Weeds Out Of Your Raised Bed
Like raised bed soil, you should also amend the soil of part where you have the plan to grow lettuce. Adding organic compost, fully decomposed manure (chicken manure, animal dung manure) in the soil and mixing them can do the trick.
After improving the soil, now its time to sow the seeds. Select some good and healthy seeds, sow them in the soil about a half-inch deep in the soil. Keep the distance of 6 inches between each seed.
You should sow 2 or 3 seeds at one point, at least one will grow. If all of them grow, you can always thin them, buy pulling some seedlings and planting them in other locations.
If your applying square foot gardening in your kitchen garden, 4 seeds per square foot is enough. Sow the seeds about a half-inch deep in the soil and cover it with the soil. Do not bury the seeds in soil too much.
After sowing the seeds, water them thoroughly. Do not overwater the soil.
When Will Seeds Germinate?
The seeds should germinate in 7 to 14 days. If your seedlings are getting leggy, it means they are not getting enough light. When seedlings produce 2 to 4 sets of leaves, its time to transplant them outdoor (if your growing seeds indoors in seed tray).
Transplant them in your kitchen garden by keeping a distance of 6 inches. You can also grow lettuce in fall-winter. In winter crops, you should plant them closely. That’s how you will get more crops in winter.
Also Read: Growing Spinach Indoors Under Lights
Watering Needs Of Lettuce.
Plants of lettuce are very water-loving plants, especially in hot summer days. Water them early in the morning. Water close to roots and water them deeply. As I mentioned before, overwatering is not an option, and dry soil can make the leaves bitter.
Shade Needs Of Plants.
In hot summer days, the plants take full and harsh sunlight as an indication and start to reproduce. Plants will start to produce seeds instead of leaves. This is called the bolting of lettuce plants. You can avoid this by giving them some shade using clothes or grow them at a partially shady place.
Fertilizing And Mulching.
If your soil is fertile, you don’t have to give them any kind of fertilizer. If not, you may have to fertilize them after some time. Use organic fertilizers or use some kind of manure to give them nutrients.
Use any kind of fertilizer you wanted to use. Just remember, too much nitrogen can also make the leaves bitter.
An organic mulch of wood chips and dead leaves will save your plants from weeds and completely dry out. Plus, organic mulch will decompose and add extra nutrients to the soil.
When To Harvest Lettuce.
Normal iceberg lettuce will take 45-65 days to grow fully mature. Romaine lettuce will take 75 to 85 days. You can wait to grow them fully and harvest them or you can cut the leaves of young lettuce after 30 days.
Harvest the leaves of young lettuce and new will grow. Or cut all the leaves of young lettuce at an inch above the soil and new plant will regrow from the remaining part. This method is called as cut and come again.