Growing lettuce is easy. But the secret to having lettuce continually through fall, winter, spring and almost all of the summer is continual planting and different varieties.
If you live in Virginia or climates where the night time temperatures are hovering between 30 and 32 with an occasional dip into the 20s you’ve probably started your lettuce already. If you haven’t — today might be a good day to get started.
If you don’t want to or can’t direct sow into the garden right now try the wintersown method for starting your seed. My lettuces wintersown the first part of January germinated rather quickly. Some have already been transplanted to the garden.
Since each variety will perform and act a bit differently than any other variety — grow at least several. (I’m growing more than a dozen varieties this year.) That way you can shorten the learning curve for knowing what will do best for you and be the most delicious to your taste-buds.
And remember nothing is wasted since lettuce seed can stay viable for years if you keep if dry, cool and in the dark.
Here’s My Overall Plan for insuring that I have an ongoing supply of lettuce through Spring and Summer after my wintered-over lettuces are gone. If you don’t already have a plan — maybe mine will give you some ideas.
- Seeded several varieties via the wintersown method in January. Will continue to start more using this method.
- Direct seeded the loose leaf Black Seeded Simpson into the garden on January 20th in hoop tunnel bed. It’s up and looking good.
- Transplanted two varieties yesterday to the hoop tunnel beds that were germinated via the wintersown method.
- Will transplant more this week to hoop tunnel bed.
- Will transplant more to beds without the hoop tunnel.
- Will direct seed more into the garden. (If temperatures take a severe drop below about 27 or so — I’ll add an additional layer of light straw or row cover fabric to protect the seedlings.)
- Will repeat this plan of action planting several varieties each week through May.
(Most of the lettuces I start in April and especially May will be the ones that will need to tolerate the hot days of summer. I’ll chose those that are known to tolerate heat and slow to bolt like Jericho and Nevada.)
Keep in mind that most lettuces need light to germinate.
After I direct sow into the garden I lightly pat the lettuce to make sure it has good soil contact. Then I sprinkle ever so lightly with straw. I like the straw better than covering with soil because the straw mulch keeps the moisture in. Lettuce needs the moisture to germinate as well as light.
When I sow in a flat or wintersow in a jug, I either cover very lightly with a handful of the grow mix — or I don’t cover it at all. Just press lightly to the soil.
That delicious flavor of homegrown is more than worth the tiny effort it takes to get it.
Even if you don’t need much, try planting at least a dozen or so seeds of several varieties every week from now through May. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll enjoy having fresh varieties of lettuce in your garden from now through the summer. And the taste is unbeatable.
Other Posts on Lettuce:
Lettuce – Secrets to Getting Eatable Lettuce Well into Summer
Lettuce – How to Have More in the Off Season
Lettuce – There’s No Right or Wrong Way
Greens – Now is the Time to Plan for the Heat of Summer
Lettuce – Eating Fresh Even After it Stalks
Lettuce – Delicious as a Cooked Green
Lettuce Bitter? Secrets to Keeping it Tasty
Lettuce – Spinning Like a Great Chef
Lettuce – Favorites, Tips, and Several Sources
Lettuce – Plant in the Fall – Harvest for 3 Seasons
Lettuce – A Teaser and Reminder
Lettuce – Time to Plant
Lettuce – Greens – Will Fall plantings carry you Through Spring and Summer?
Winter Gardening – Growing Lettuce- 3 Tips
Lettuce – Harvesting for Dinner on July 16th
Addendum to the Post – Lettuce – Harvesting for Dinner on July 16th
Organic Gardening it easy, efficient, effective and it’s a lot easier.
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Hi Theresa. I sowed seeds from an Asian greens mix in small, uncovered pots on Feb 8th and they are starting to germinate already. So is the kale I planted on the 5th. I realized when I saw them sprouting that I should already have lettuce planted, so I’ll be doing that today. I only have two kinds of seed right now, but I’ll be getting more soon, I hope.
Thanks for this timely article!
Good for you Grace! After 35 years of gardening, seeing that seed germinate is so exciting for me and I know you share that feeling!
Hi Theresa…I have so much fun growing a variety of lettuce. Much of it is winter sown but I also like to mix extra seeds with used coffee grounds and sprinkle them in beds where I have other veggies growing. When they germinate and grow they look so pretty dotting the garden.
I think lettuce plants are so beautiful and your idea is a great one to beautify the garden and have great tasting lettuce as well. Thanks for sharing it.
What a great idea, Sharon! Thanks for sharing!
OK, so I have a really dumb question. If I have lettuce growing in the ground and I want to continually sow more lettuce to have a continuing supply, can I sprinkle the seeds where the lettuce is growing, or do I have to find a new empty spot in the garden? I have two rows in my 4×4 bed dedicated to lettuce (little gem, tom thumb and some mixed greens). I’m doing square foot gardening. My plan was to sow outdoors and fill those 2 rows. Just wondering what the best approach is to continually have a supply in such a small space. Would it make sense to seed 2 squares every 2 weeks until 8 squares have busy growing lettuce? I guess same question applies to other veggies as well where I have a few squares dedicated. Thanks for your help Theresa.
Michele, as long as your soil has been “feed” properly and is thus still rich in organic matter when you sow the seed, I don’t see a problem.
And yes, it certainly makes sense to seed 2 squares every 2 weeks (or 1 square every week) until 8 squares have growing lettuces.
I can’t really visualize your situation, but I see no reason you can’t do that for most veggies.
One strategy that you may want to consider is starting lettuces in a containers or flats every week or two and then filling in your garden spaces with young seedlings when they’re ready. Also, this gives the seedling a chance to start without crowding.
By trying different things, you’ll be able to see and then determine what works best for you.
Let me know what you do! Happy lettuce eating!
Thanks Theresa. I now have a 3-tier system indoors so I can easily sow the lettuce in flats and bring them outside and fill in the spaces. I’ll let you know how it goes…Michele