Tips on Planting Lettuce in the Garden

Jul 23, 2017
Planting Lettuce With Celeste
Celeste Longacre

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A crop that can be planted often is lettuce. This is actually my husband’s favorite so I plant lettuce early and often in the spring, starting two weeks before frost. In fall, I start sowing again eight weeks before the fall frost. The trick is to stagger plantings every 10 to 14 days so you don’t have all your lettuce at once.

See your average frost dates for spring and fall.

Here are seven tips and tricks on growing lettuce—so that your garden space yields the maximum harvest!

  • Lettuce is best when it is young and tender. As it ages, it gets bitter. So I get a mix (there are many, but I especially like Johnny’s Allstar Lettuce Mix).

  • Prepare the soil with some additives (kelp meal, azomite powder and old compost or manure) then fluff up the bed by either turning it or loosening it with a broadfork.

  • I generally designate an entire bed to lettuce but stagger the plantings in several stages. I prepare the whole bed, but I only plant about ⅕th of it at a time so that the harvest keeps coming! 
     
  • I take out a half-bucket of the soil, then broadcast the seeds. By this, I mean that I throw them everywhere—as opposed to in rows. I then cover them with the soil in the bucket and I mark how far I have planted so I know where to begin next time. I water them well right away. This lets the “lettuce angels” know that I am prepared to take good care of them while they grow.
     
  • Lettuce comes up fairly quickly—sprouts appear within a week! They often need to be thinned before they are big enough to eat, but the chickens love the tiny samples. As they get bigger, we eat the thinnings. They are so tender and sweet!

I continue to pick entire plants making room for the ones left to grow.

  • After ten to fourteen days, I plant another patch. I continue to plant the bed until it is fully planted. By this time, the first lettuce is either gone or bitter so I pull up what is left and plant it again in the same spot. This way, we have lettuce all summer long and into the fall.
     
  • Lettuce can be covered with some row cover in colder regions and it will continue to thrive into the fall.
     

I just recently perfected a dressing recipe which I will share here with you!

Dressing Recipe for Lettuce

  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered yellow mustard
  • Few shakes garlic powder
  • Small tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • Salt to taste

I mix this up and set it aside.

Then, I take one raw egg yolk (from our girls—only add this if you know your source is 100% healthy) and beat it in a measuring cup. To this, I add several minced anchovies (I mince them quite small). Stirring the previous mixture, I add in about ⅓ of it and mix it all well. Yum!

Lettuce Growing Guide
Click here for the complete Lettuce Growing Guide from The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

About This Blog

Celeste Longacre has been growing virtually all of her family’s vegetables for the entire year for over 30 years. She cans, she freezes, she dries, she ferments & she root cellars. She also has chickens. Celeste has also enjoyed a longtime relationship with The Old Farmer’s Almanac as their astrologer and gardens by the Moon. Her new book, “Celeste’s Garden Delights,” is now available! Celeste Longacre does a lot of teaching out of her home and garden in the summer. Visit her web site at www.celestelongacre.com for details.

Reader Comments

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Hi Dawn, Why wouldn’t it work

Hi Dawn, Why wouldn’t it work where you are? Is it terribly hot there? Lettuce does like it cool, but you can plant heat tolerant varieties. Give it a try if you are interested.

Zone for Celeste

Hi Celeste, I live in northeastern Kansas. Would your technique work here? I'm new here but locals tell me that don't think it will. What say you? Thank you! Dawn

Great article...I have

Great article...I have lettuce on my mind. Think I'll try your dressing minus the egg.

Thanks!

It is so awesome to pick a

It is so awesome to pick a 'fresh salad' from the garden whenever needed! :)

Hi Carolyn, Yes, it

Hi Carolyn,
Yes, it is!!!
Celeste

I love your rows! Very cool

I love your rows! Very cool idea

Thanks, Kristin! Celeste

Thanks, Kristin!
Celeste

Thanks for your nice post.

Thanks for your nice post. I'm getting ready now to plant and will try your "toss and cover" method this time around. I have elevated raised planters so I must choose carefully what I plant and lettuce is always a must

Hi IreneNJ, Yes, you can get

Hi IreneNJ,
Yes, you can get lots of lettuce out of a small space this way. Good luck!

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