Urban Gardening: Growing Lettuce & Salad Leaves in Containers | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Growing Lettuce and Salad Greens in Containers


Easy container gardening with lettuce!

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to grow salad greens in containers for fresh, young leaves in a matter of weeks. Lettuce is a great crop in shady corners in summer and all the way through fall—plus, container gardening works anywhere! See our article with three simple steps, accompanied with a video demonstration.  Let’s get growing lettuce!

Fresh garden-grown lettuce is the best! There’s just no comparison to grocery store lettuce. Aside from tomatoes, we can’t think of a garden vegetable that is so different when homegrown. And lettuce is so easy to grow!

Cut-and-come-again salad leaves are also quick and small enough to fit into almost any container, making them perfect for gardeners with limited time or space.

What You Need 

To grow cut-and-come-again salad greens you will need:

  1. good-quality potting soil,
  2. some seeds 
  3. a container with drainage holes.

We recommend either looseleaf or mesclun salad seeds; mesclun may include a mix such as lettuce, endive, and arugula.

Sowing Your Salads

  1. Fill your container with potting soil up to an inch below the rim, and tamp down to leave a level surface.
  2. Sprinkle seeds thinly and evenly over the surface of the compost.
  3. Cover the seeds with a fine layer of potting soil. Gently tamp down to firm the seeds in, then water carefully using a watering can fitted with a fine rose.

Caring For Your Seedlings

Move the container into a bright spot or, if you’re gardening in a hot climate, a cool, shady corner. Check it every day and water as necessary to maintain evenly moist (but not waterlogged) conditions. The seedlings will normally take five to ten days to germinate.

Once the seedlings appear you’ll probably need to thin them out a little. Remove some of the seedlings so that those remaining are spaced a minimum of an inch apart.

How to Harvest Cut-and-Come-Again Leaves

The leaves are ready to cut four to six weeks after sowing.

Harvest little and often using a sharp knife or scissors to cut away the largest leaves every few days. More leaves will then be produced.

For information, see our free salad growing guide.

Want to grow more of your own food? Try our online Garden Planner for free: ​https://gardenplanner.almanac.com

About The Author

Christopher Burnett

Chris is an avid gardener, maintaining a small vegetable garden for himself and his family, a variety of ornamental flowers and shrubs, and a diverse collection of houseplants. Read More from Christopher Burnett

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