Today you will learn how to grow green leaf lettuce at home in containers, raised garden beds, and in your outside garden.
The good news is, you can grow green lettuce in any part of the garden. Because it doesn’t need much care and is easy to grow even for the beginners.
Just give it basic care like proper water, fertilizers, moisture, and 4 to 5 hours of morning sunlight. Your plants will grow in a short time and you will have multiple harvests of lettuce.
Let’s start with the lettuce varieties.
Best types of Lettuce Varieties to grow at home
Many different types of lettuce varieties are available but the green leaf lettuce type is most popular among home growers. Green leaf lettuce has more nutrients than the other lettuces. Moreover, Leafy lettuce grows very quickly and you can harvest every plant multiple times for weeks.
Other best lettuce types are:
1. Romaine Lettuce
2. Iceberg Lettuce
4. Loose-leaf lettuce
5. Oakleaf lettuce
If you know the Caesar salad than you know the importance of Romaine in it. This heat-tolerant lettuce plant forms the tight upright head of crisp leaves.
Most of the growers don’t succeed in growing iceberg lettuce plants. Because iceberg is a little hard to grow as compared to the romaine and loose-leaf. But I found it easy to grow in my garden. All you need is experienced guidance for growing iceberg lettuce plants.
It is also known as Boston lettuce and has bright green outer leaves with the light yellow heart at the center. The high percentage of vitamins and minerals found in butterhead lettuce make it the second most favorite lettuce in North America.
This green leaf lettuce does not produce a tight heart like other varieties. It has loose leaves and by harvesting outer loose leaves you can harvest it multiple times in a week. Mostly these plants are grown for small lettuce leaves also called baby leaves.
It is a form of leaf lettuce with red or green color leaves. The leaf color depends upon the variety of Oakleaf lettuce. It has a good number of leaves that look similar to the Oak leaves.
How to grow green leaf lettuce at home?
Lettuce is a cool-season crop this means you cannot grow it in a high heat environment. For lettuce seeds to germinate the soil temperature should be below 80 Degrees. Once the soil temperature goes above 80, your lettuce seeds will not germinate.
In some parts of the country where the temperature remains cool for a longer time. Lettuce has a long growing season.
You should start germinating lettuce seeds indoors at least 4 weeks before the last frost. So that you can transfer them outside as soon as the soil is able to be worked. This way you can have more lettuce in every season and also get your first harvest in the early days of lettuce season.
Once the temperature goes on the high side you need to shift on the more heat-tolerant lettuce varieties like Romaine.
The good news is,
You can grow lettuce in pots, containers, raised garden beds, or in part of your garden. The growing procedure is the same for all methods.
I personally recommend growing it in raised beds or in containers. Because snails and slugs like to eat fresh green lettuce. Ground-level growing lettuce is easier for pets to attack.
Soil is an important factor that plays a vital role in growing this fast-growing plant. The soil should be loose and well-draining. This protects your plants from an excess of water.
For best heavy harvest nourish your garden soil with homemade compost.
Avoid large clods of soil or break them into fine soil because they slow down the growth rate of lettuce plants.
Growing green leaf lettuce from seeds
There are two ways of growing lettuce at home
1. Direct from seeds
2. From seedlings
Direct Growing in Garden Soil
Grow them in rows or broadcast seeds for a large area. This is a personal preference, how you would like to use your garden space. I grow heading type of lettuce in rows. Sow the seeds with the difference of two inches between them.
The rows of seeds should apart 10 to 16 inches from one another. This gives good space to every single growing lettuce plant.
Once you have well-grown seedlings in your garden thin them according to their type.
From Lettuce Seedlings
Once your indoor-grown seedlings are ready to transplant. Plant them 8 to 10 inches apart in rows with 12 to 16 inches space between rows. The space between seedlings is depended upon the final size of the mature lettuce.
Check the seed packets for the final size of the mature lettuce plant. Then adjust the space between seeds and seed rows accordingly.
How to grow lettuce plants in pots & containers?
First, you need to choose the best pot for growing lettuce in it. Generally, all types of containers are suitable to grow lettuce in them. You just need to make sure your pots have a draining hole and they are light enough to move from one place to another places.
6 inches wide and 6 to 10 inches deep pots are best for growing lettuce at home. Lettuce plants don’t have long roots so small size pots are good. Your 6 inches wide pot can hold 2 green leaf lettuce plants.
Make sure they have 3 inches distance between them.
Potting Mix for Container lettuce
Organic potting mix made for all-purpose is a good option. In order to get more from every single lettuce plant, mix 40% compost or slow-releasing fertilizer in the mix. Or mix 50% of cow manure.
If you want, you can use garden soil but again you need to mix organic matter in it. This ensures the regular supply of nutrients to the plants.
Planting Lettuce Seeds in Containers
Fill the container with the potting mix and give it some water to make it moist. Sprinkle lettuce seeds on the mix and cover them with ¼ inch of potting mix and again give some water. You can thin them later once you become well-grown seedlings.
Here you need to keep the soil of the container moist until the seedlings come out of the seed. Remember good moisture is key to grow healthy lettuces.
How to get a long season of harvests?
The secret of long lettuce harvesting season is succession planting. This is a technique based on planting lettuce seeds at different times. This allows you to get back to back lettuce harvests.
For a family of four, plant a small number of seeds at once. Once you start harvesting them immediately plant another batch of seeds. Your harvesting will go for weeks and in meantime, your second batch will germinate and start growing well.
NOTE: Sow first batch of seeds, wait for 3 to 4 weeks, and again sow more seeds for the second harvest. This is called the continuous production of crops.
Lettuce plant care
Growing lettuce plants is as simple as growing green grass. The tricky part is maintaining the good health of growing lettuce plants. Follow these tips to grow healthy green leaf lettuce plants.
Light and Lettuce plants
It is a cool-season plant so it does not require high bright light. But if you are growing it in cool weather than full-day sunlight is ok for lettuce. As the temperature increases day after day you need to make a change in lettuce care routine.
Normally 4 to5 hours of direct sunlight is enough for lettuce. On hot days put your lettuce plants in morning sunlight for 4 to 5 hours then move them back to the shady area.
This is only possible if you are growing it in containers. But those growing lettuce in the garden in soil can’t move it. Therefore, for those growers, the best option is to cover the plants after 10 am till the evening.
You can grow lettuce year-round only if you have a good shady location in your garden. From a shady location, we mean a place where direct sunlight does not reach. But make sure your lettuce gets fresh air and some indirect bright light for a maximum of 5 hours per day.
Excessive exposure to the sunlight and hot winds can damage the delicate lettuce plants.
Soil for Lettuce
Green leaf lettuce and other types of lettuce plants grow quickly. Plants that grow faster soak high amounts of nutrients from the soil. To grow lettuce at home you need to have a soil that contains a high amount of Nitrogen.
For growing organic lettuce use compost to strengthen your garden soil. Compost has many nutrients and is particularly high in nitrogen. Nitrogen is required to produce bright long green leaves.
Also, make sure the soil can hold a good amount of moisture without becoming soggy.
Mix compost or other organic nutrients to the soil 6 days before planting lettuce seeds and seedlings.
For juicy green leafy lettuce keep the soil moist by supplying adequate water. When you see the upper 1 inch of soil is dry give water to your lettuce plants.
To play safe mulch around the plants. Mulching helps soil retain water content for a long time and also protects your plants from weeds and some pests.
While mulching leaves 2 inches around the base of the plant.
40 to 65 degrees F is the perfect temperature range for growing all types of lettuce plants. Some growers claim that they grow lettuce in even warmer temperatures. The problem is plants grown in warm conditions bolt in a short time.
My advice is once the outside temperature goes above 80 degrees F don’t try to plant lettuce outside. But you can grow it inside your home under grow lights.
All you need to do is buy a good LED Grow light for your lettuce plants and control the temperature of your grow room.
Feed your plants
Pre-fertilization of soil is a must before sowing seeds. This gives a nutrient boost to the seeds and helps developing seedlings. For this purpose, as already mentioned you should use compost.
But for better health of plants, you need to give extra nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Liquid fertilizers are best to use as they are rich in nitrogen so as compost tea. Compost tea is also a kind of liquid fertilizer that contains all essential nutrients (high Nitrogen).
Applying diluted liquid fertilizer on leaves give slow results. The best way is to give it directly to the plant. So that the roots can absorb it and transfer it to every single part of the plant. This way your plants will grow healthy and produce more green bright juicy lettuce leaves.
Harvesting and Storing Lettuce
Morning time is best to harvest lettuce plant leaves because it is the time when they are crispest. You can just cut the outer leaf or by using sharp scissors cut the entire plant from its base. Pulling it out from the roots allows you to grow the second batch in the same place.
1. Harvest lettuce as a baby green
2. Harvest leaf by leaf from loose-leaf or heading lettuce varieties
3. Harvest the entire head by cutting it from the base (cut it 1 inch above the soil)
Fresh lettuce leaves are tasty to eat but the problem comes when you have more than enough of them. It is hard to store lettuce for a long time. You can store it in a cool place and it remains fresh for 3 to 5 days.
Lettuce growing problems and solutions
1. The main problem is the low rate of germination and this is due to various reasons. The main reason is not giving enough water means a lack of moisture. Lettuce germination rate is less than 85 % and to get the success you need to keep the soil well moist.
2. If you see the signs of wilting this means your plants need immediate water. Always use drinkable water. Remember your plants need a good amount of moisture.
3. Yellow color leaves mean it needs a high dose of nitrogen.
4. If you feel your lettuce taste bitter or is woody this is because your lettuce plant is over matured.
Green Leaf Lettuce and Pest control
Aphids and Thrips are the most common pests that attack lettuce leaves. They suck the fluids from the leaves and make them nutrient deficient. Plants die in few days when these pests suck all the fluid from them.
To combat, use a neem oil spray. It is very beneficial to prevent and kill many types of pests.
You can grow some garlic or chives near your growing lettuce to prevent pest attacks.
Flea beetle eats the whole plant and you don’t want pests to eat your growing plants. Therefore, you need to use some strong spray like Monterey garden insect spray.
How long does lettuce take to grow?
It depends upon the variety of lettuce but usually, it takes 30 to 55 days to grow mature.
Will lettuce regrow after cutting?
Yes, as long as there is moisture in the soil your lettuce will regrow after every cutting.
Can you grow lettuce all year round?
Yes, you can grow lettuce plants year-round. For this, you need to grow it in such a place where you can give it a suitable environment to grow. It is only possible in indoor gardening in which you use grow tents, temperature controllers, humidity controllers, etc. By using indoor gardening equipment, you can give the best suitable environment for growing lettuce.