First, the recent four most widely used types of lettuce include: leaf, romaine (also called cos), butterhead, and crisphead.
Amongthose you’ll find dozens of variations in the colors and shapes ofthe leaves and some with better heat or cold tolerance. With a fewsurefire tips, growing lettuce from seed is easy and fun. Let us alllearn how to grow lettuce!
Lettuce-growing seasons are a bit tricky. Lettuce grows best when it’s cool, but the leaves quickly dissolve when exposed to freezing temperatures. When it’s too hot, lettuce bolts (goes to seed), becomes bitter, or dries up and dies.
Plant lettuce in early spring when the soil is about 60 to 80 degrees F and dry enough to work into a fine texture. For a continuous crop, sow seeds every week until temperatures get too hot for lettuce to thrive. Begin sowing again in late summer when high temps become a thing of the past.
To extend the season once theweather warms, add a shade cover such as netting or cheesecloth thatallows light to penetrate but not burn the plants.
Growing Lettucefrom Seed
Planting lettuce from seed is easy.The plants emerge quickly in about 10 days so it’s fun for kids toplant.
However, lettuce seeds are so tinythat it’s hard to space them properly. It’s easiest to put seeds inthe palm of your hand, then use a pinch of your fingers to sparinglybroadcast them so they’re spaced about 1/2 inch apart in a row orseedbed.
Cover the seeds with no more than1/4 inch of soil. Keep the soil lightly moist. A handheld sprayer isideal for the task so the water doesn’t move the seeds.
Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged as the lettuce grows.
Types of Lettuce
1) Leaf lettuce:
This is the easiest to grow andoffers the widest array of colors, shapes, and sizes. It’s ready toharvest in 40 to 60 days. It grows, as its name implies, in looseshapes that resemble single leaves.
Exciting colors and leaf forms makeleaf lettuce a great addition to a mixed salad. Cut the leaves atground level whenever they are large enough to use. Try not to pullthe roots out, because this can dislodge the roots of other nearbylettuce plants.
Cutting the lettuces also allowsthem to regrow new leaves several more times until warm weather stopstheir growth.
2) Romaine, or cos,lettuce:
This type of lettuce grows withupright leaves that are often sweeter and firmer than other types oflettuce. It’s the most nutritious of lettuces.
3) Butterhead lettuce andcrisphead lettuce:
They are a little more difficult togrow than leaf lettuce because they take more time to mature and aresensitive to heat. Both form rounded heads. Crisphead (think‘Iceberg’ lettuce) is larger than butterhead lettuce, which gets itsname because the inside leaves stay a lighter butter color due tolack of sunlight.
Mesclun simplymeans a mixture of varied greens. Mesclun can be purchased as a seedmix, or you can grow your mesclun garden with an assortment oflettuces and salad greens such arugula, chervil, chicory, and endive.
Growing Lettuce inContainers
Its shallow roots and relatively small size make lettuce ideal for growing in containers. Grow it the same way you would in the ground, but use a soilless potting mix instead of garden soil, which is too dense and won’t allow good root structure to develop.
Growing lettuce indoors is a littleharder than it is outdoors unless you have grow lights. Most indoorlight through a window even direct sunlight isn’t as bright. However,lettuces grow inside when you keep the temperature below 70 degrees Fand keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
Store lettuce unwashed in plasticbags in the coolest part of your refrigerator. Keep it away fromapples, bananas, and pears. These fruits emit ethylene gas thatquickly damages lettuce, causing it to decay.