Care and Planting Instructions

Most lettuces tolerate some cold. Plant outside in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked. Successive planting will ensure a longer harvest time as lettuce does not store for long periods of time once harvested.

Lettuce does not do well in soil that is acidic. Some experts recommend a pH that is higher than 6.5. If your soil is too acidic, adding lime will help neutralize the soil. Most varieties have a tendency to be heavy feeders, so consider working compost into the soil before planting.

Lettuce needs water when the leaves begin to droop. To minimize disease, regular, even watering early in the morning is best. Lack of water can cause reduced head size, may force the plant to bolt prematurely, and increase bitterness in the leaves. As lettuce roots are generally shallow, adding mulch around plants will help keep the roots cool, moisture in the soil, and keeps weeds under control.

For optimal results, harvest lettuce early in the morning. Wash thoroughly, spin or pat dry, and refrigerate immediately.

Loose leaf lettuce – You can begin harvesting the baby greens when there are at least 5-6 mature leaves of usable size (2″ long for baby lettuce, 5″-6″ long for more mature lettuce) – Harvest can begin around the 28th day. Keep picking until a seed stalk appears or the leaves become bitter. Successive plantings, at 2-3 week intervals, will ensure freshness and a continual harvest of sweet, flavorful leaves.

Lettuce lactuca sativa

Cherokee Lettuce
Very dark red leaves. Slow
Bolting and heat resistant.
Harvest 48 days.
lactuca sativa
Lollo Rossa Lettuce
Glowing red, tight, frilled
packed leaves. Excellent baby
vegetable or micro greens.
Harvest 53 days.
lactuca sativa
Red Oak Leaf Lettuce
Dark red leaf type lettuce.
Slow bolting.
Harvest 45 days.
Salad Bowl Mix (All Star)
Selected varieties of dark reds & green leaf lettuces.
Ruffled edges and unique leaf shapes provide interesting
texture, and appearance. Harvest 45-60 days.
Tropicana Lettuce
Green, leaf type lettuce. Heat
tolerant and slow to bolt.
Harvest 52 days.
Wildfire Mix Lettuce
A high contrast mix of red and green
leaf lettuce varieties.
Harvest 28 days.

Lettuce culture –

Lettuce is generally grown as a hardy annual, is easily cultivated, and grows best in full sun in loose, nitrogen-rich soils. Ancient Egyptians first cultivated lettuce from a weed, whose seeds were used to produce oil, into a plant grown for its leaves. The English word “lettuce” is derived from the Roman word “lactuca” (lac meaning milk in Latin) due to the white substance that is exuded when its stem is cut. Christopher Columbus brought lettuce to the Americas from Europe in the late 15th century.

There are several types of lettuce, but three (leaf, head and romaine) are the most common.

Loose leaf lettuce – easiest to grow and hardiest in hot weather.

Butter head lettuce – a cross between head lettuce and leaf lettuce with a loose, leafy, head-shaped center. Prefers cooler weather.

Romaine lettuce – leaves grow straight up in a central bunch. Tolerates some heat but is not as easy to grow as leaf lettuce.

Some varieties of lettuce can be overwintered even in relatively cold climates under a layer of straw. Older, heirloom varieties are often grown in cold frames. Heat generally prompts lettuce to bolt. When this happens the leaves become bitter. Growing it when temperatures are relatively low will help to prevent it from flowering (bolting) too quickly. Lettuces have a wide range of shapes and textures, from the dense heads of the iceberg type to the notched, scalloped, or frilled leaves of leaf varieties. The leaves are colorful, mainly in the green and red color spectrums, but there are some variegated varieties.

Lettuce is most often used in salads, either alone or with other greens. It is often paired with vegetables, meats, and cheeses; although it is also seen in other kinds of food, such as soups, sandwiches and wraps. Lettuce is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium, and fiber. It has a high water content (about 95%). This causes problems when attempting to preserve the plant. It cannot be successfully be frozen, canned or dried and is best when eaten fresh.