All About Growing Lettuce 

by Heirloom Seeds 

There are 4 types of lettuce, and each of them have the same basic growing requirements. 

Soil P H 6.0 to 7.0 - Sow seed in early Spring, as soon as soil can be worked. This occurs about four weeks before last expected Spring frost.  Plant 1/8 inch deep in a wide row, 6 inches apart in all directions.  Make sure soil contains a good supply of nitrogen for good leaf production. Lettuce may be started inside and transplanted into the garden for an earlier crop.  Lettuce needs cool weather to do well.  In warm weather, lettuce turns bitter and quickly goes to seed.  Plant every two weeks for a continuous harvest all summer long.  Make early plantings in full sun. 

As soon as the weather warms up, start planting in partial shade.  During the summer, a good spot to grow lettuce is against the house on the side that receives the morning sun, or in the shade of taller vegetables in the garden.  Weed frequently, as lettuce has shallow roots and can't compete with deep rooted weeds. 

Make sure to plant lettuce in the fall, as it is extremely productive at this time of the year.  Lettuce can be grown in containers, and does well in one with a soil depth of 9 to 12 inches. 

Leaf lettuce has the most varieties and is the easiest to grow.  It produces loose bunches of leaves instead of a solid head.  Leaf lettuce comes in many colors and textures and should be included in everyone’s garden.  It is quick growing and can be grown in warmer weather than the other types.   When harvesting, cut the leaves off an inch or two above the ground, and the plants will send out new leaves for a second crop. Try Black Seeded Simpson, Salad Bowl, Early Curled Simpson, Oak Leaf or Prize Head. 

This lettuce forms small, tender, open heads that have a creamy, "buttery" center. It matures a little later than leaf lettuce and has a milder flavor.  Include in your garden for some variety in your salads. Try Buttercrunch, White Boston, Tom Thumb (our favorite),  Little Gem or 
Big Boston. 

Also called Cos, this lettuce has upright clusters of big, crunchy leaves. The leaves are very flavorful and exceptionally crisp.  This lettuce matures in 70 to 85 days.   A must variety for any salad lover.  Try Paris White Cos. 

This is the familiar "head" lettuce found in grocery stores.   This variety takes the longest to grow and can be the most temperamental. Needs to mature in cool weather in order to form tight, compact heads. In many parts of the country, it is best grown as a fall crop.   It is ready to harvest when the heads are solid and the outer leaves turn a yellowish green. Try Wakefield Crunch, New York #12, Great Lakes and Iceberg. 

Various insects can be a problem when growing lettuce.  Aphids, cabbage loopers, flea beetles, leafhoppers and leaf miners just to name a few.  Since lettuce does not need to be pollinated  in order to produce a crop, all of these insects can be stopped by growing your lettuce under a 
floating row cover. 

Happy Gardening, 

Disclaimer: Throughout this website, statements are made pertaining to the properties and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.