Lettuce is a cool-season crop that thrives in mild temperatures and can be grown in spring and fall. It prefers a sunny location but can tolerate partial shade, especially in warmer climates. Lettuce grows best in well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 6.0-7.0. The soil should be enriched with compost or a balanced organic fertilizer.
For a continuous harvest, consider succession planting, sowing new seeds every 2-3 weeks. In hot weather, lettuce may benefit from shade to prevent bolting.
Direct sow lettuce seeds 1/4 inch deep, spacing them 1 inch apart in rows 12-18 inches apart. Thin seedlings to 4-8 inches apart, depending on the variety. Keep the soil consistently moist, as lettuce requires even moisture for optimal growth. Mulching helps maintain soil moisture and control weeds.
For detailed information on growing lettuce, including different varieties (leaf, romaine, butterhead, etc.), refer to our comprehensive lettuce grow guide.
Diseases, Insects, and Weeds
Common pests include aphids, slugs, and caterpillars. Diseases like downy mildew and powdery mildew can also affect lettuce. Use row covers to protect the plants and apply organic or chemical pest controls as necessary. Good sanitation and proper spacing are important for disease prevention.
Harvest lettuce leaves as needed, picking the outer leaves first and allowing the center leaves to continue growing. For head lettuce, harvest the entire plant when the head is formed and firm. Harvest in the morning for the crispest leaves.
Storage and Preservation
Store lettuce in the refrigerator for up to a week. Wash and dry the leaves, then store them in a sealed container with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Lettuce is best used fresh, as it does not freeze or can well.