Your best tips for growing lettuce

AMKuska

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So, the master gardener I got to spend time with recommended that I focus on a specific vegetable to practice on/learn more about, and then to switch out as I learn more. Since lettuce is our most frequently eaten vegetable, I'm the pickiest about how fresh it is, and it's also the hardest to source plastic free, I thought I'd start with that.

I'd like to know every little tip/bit of information you've learned about lettuce in general, and any specific varieties you've come to love over the years. :)
 

flowerbug

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i will be reading along too. :)

my experience is only from growing a few seasons and then i gave up. Mom is incredibly picky and won't eat any lettuce other than romaine hearts. our soil is unsuited for growing it in most gardens and it doesn't seem like we get a nice enough season. it ends up being too bitter for her too rapidly. so we just buy it at the store. i put in some leaf lettuces and i liked them, but too many were too bitter for Mom.

planting as early as possible (some people use hoop houses and cold frames), multiple times with plans to thin as needed. all the thinnings are good to eat. :)

our gardens are surrounded by crushed rinsed limestone pathways so we do not have much of a slug problem. i think that wood chips would also work to discourage any slug intrusions. if you do start have a slug issue put down some pieces of old flat boards along the edge of the garden near the problem areas and go out each morning and flip the boards up and smush the slugs or move the boards to where the birds can get at them away from your gardens and rotate other boards into that place (wet down the boards first to make them more attractive to the slugs).
 

Cosmo spring garden

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Muir and cherokee are my fave variety for summer, both from Johnnyseeds.com. this variety does great during the heat of the summer and does not bolt easily as long as you keep it watered really well, daily or twice a day on really hot days. You can harvest the whole head or just the outer leaves.

Besides slugs I have not other pests on my lettuce. I use sluggo brand slug bait for this with great results.
I direct seed in the fall, winter and spring. Lettuce wont germinate when the soil is too hot.

We love lettuce!
 

digitS'

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I know that not more than a few hundred miles separate our growing environments but the climate is quite different from yours, AMKuska . I also have to admit that I am not much of a tossed green salad fan. We do grow lettuce, however, and make use of it.

None of it is direct-sown. Inserts (ponies) in a flat are used and 3 or 4 seeds go in each. A few are sown about every 2 weeks right into mid-summer. By that time, the flat is being moved around the yard so that it isn't cooking in the greenhouse and has some afternoon shade.

I like the Batavian (Summer Crisp) varieties. DW likes Buttercrunch and, really, it does quite well. I have grown head lettuce before with no problems. One seed / cell in the ponies.

The loose leaf plants in their little bunches go into the garden unseparated. Pick a cloudy day. Harvest one plant at a time, cutting at the soil surface. Probably, in less than a week, all the plants in that bunch have been cut. Pull the roots and toss in the compost.

Only Romaine has been successful as a cut-&-come again. (That approach wouldn't provide @flowerbug 's mother with the hearts.) Romaine stands up better to summer heat and dryness. Lettuce is a short-season crop for me, otherwise. I try to make up for that by having multiple sowings.

Steve
 

AMKuska

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Thanks you guys! I'm loving these tips!!
 

ducks4you

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Lettuce requires COOL to COLD temperatures to grow well.
I suggest that you read my posts on this thread:
I am starting lettuce next week here. Too many times I have started in the Spring and it bolted before I really harvested much.
 

Ridgerunner

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I don't grow head lettuce, just leaf lettuce. I direct seed the seeds where I want them to grow. My method is to take a 2x4 and sow a thin strip along one side, then back it up and sow another thin strip, trying to keep from sowing them too thick. That's how I sow a lot of seeds I don't want to plant too thick like beets, carrots, and turnips. Lettuce seeds are really fine, it's easy to get them too thick.

When they start to grow I thin them out and use the baby greens as a salad. After I thin them out enough I harvest single leaves off of different plants. We don't eat a lot of lettuce. That's the time of year that I'm getting a lot of other cool-weather veggies, especially greens.

When the weather gets hot lettuce gets bitter. I don't see a lot of benefit in succession planting, starting a new crop every couple of weeks. Lettuce is pretty fast so it's good to start on but when other stuff comes in we can eat that. From what I've seen when it gets hot it turns bitter, no matter how young it is. So for me there is a fairly narrow window for lettuce.

I typically plant Red Sails lettuce, It tastes good to me and I like the colors. Pretty productive. I like to mix it with Oak Leaf lettuce. Oak Leaf is very productive and I think the two together make a pretty salad.
 

digitS'

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The leaves are what you want, AMK'.

The plants don't need to produce flowers, fruit or seeds to make the gardener happy. (And, repurchase seeds for those the following year so as to perpetuate the species/variety ;).)

So, nitrogen to promote leaf growth and that might do it, unless your soil has a deficiency. If I remember right, you live close to Puyallup. That area was so important to the state Cooperative Extension that they had all sorts of information for there and next-to-nothing for anywhere else in the state. (Fortunately, that changed .) I'd guess that the ag people would choose a super soil location for their offices so that they could brag about their growing techniques.

;) Steve
 

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