Growing lettuce is a good choice for organic gardens of any size. While it's not difficult and pretty straight forward to grow lettuce, learning all you can about planting and harvesting lettuce will allow you to grow great crops of lettuce. Even more importantly, when harvest time comes, you'll enjoy the amazing fresh taste of home grown lettuce over store bought varieties.
Ever since I took up the passion of gardening, I've grown many varieties of lettuces - with Romaine (cos) lettuce being my favorite. I think most gardeners will agree with me when I say that store bought lettuce varieties never taste as good as home grown lettuce. Besides the difference in taste, you get all the enjoyment and pleasure of gardening and growing your own vegetables!
I got a nice photo of a young romaine lettuce from my garden below:
How to Plant Lettuce Seeds
If you do a search on planting lettuce seeds, you'll find a variety of opinion and information on their spacing, and on thinning the seedlings out and transplanting them. Depending on the lettuce variety, the general guidelines is to space the lettuce plants 6 to 12 inches apart, and set the rows 12 to 18 inches apart. There's really no right or wrong answer, but what probably matters most is the size of your garden. If you're garden size is somewhat limited, then you will be inclined to reduce the spacing and try to squeeze in a few extra lettuce plants. I have a somewhat limited garden space, so I have to admit that I tend to "squeeze" the lettuce planting so that I can get as much as possible. I can't really say if this affects their growth or not since I seem to get nice crops at harvest each year anyway. I'd like to move to a house with a BIG backyard! =)
So, just to reiterate, the general guideline for planting lettuce seeds is to sow them about 1/2 inch deep in the soil, and thin the plants out to 6 to 12 inches apart, and rows 12 to 18 inches apart. Lettuce seedlings do no like to be moved around much, so it's best to simply sow the seeds directly to where they will grow, and simply thin out the seedlings to the required spacing. See here for harvesting lettuce.
Lettuce plants prefer cool temperatures, and they like to grow in moist soil. They also do not like hot sunny days. During hot sunny days, especially young lettuce plants and seedlings, they will dry and shrivel up quickly. I've had several occasions where I left out a few pot grown lettuce plants in the hot sun without adequate shading, and by about mid noon to early afternoon, all the lettuce leaves are wilted. But put them under a shade for a few hours, usually by late afternoon, the leaves are fine again. Try this yourself, and you'll see how sensitive lettuce is to hot sunny days.
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