Lettuce is one of the easiest and most rewarding vegetables you can garden. It’s versatile, easy to grow, and produces a large amount of food for very little effort (and it tastes delicious). Lettuces are also extremely popular with chefs in restaurants across America because they have such strong flavors that pair well with other ingredients like cheese or fish sauce.
The three main types of lettuces grown today include romaine, leaf, and butterhead varieties. Each has different colors and textures, as well as unique nutritional values. The best way to determine which variety is right for your climate zone is by visiting local farmer’s markets. You will often be able to taste samples before buying them.
Once you know what type of lettuce you want to grow, choosing where to put each seed becomes an important decision based on sunlight requirements, soil acidity, water availability, pest pressure, etc. For instance, if you live near the coast then you may need to choose coastal-tolerant varieties since these tend to do better when there isn’t too much salt water around.
If you’re growing salad greens, try planting them early so they mature enough ahead of time for harvesting during cooler months. And don’t forget about spacing! Space plants at least 2 feet apart from each other to allow room for growth. This ensures good air circulation for all your hard work.
Now, onto picking out specific seeds… We recommend starting off by purchasing packets containing multiple mixes of lettuce seeds. These packs usually come in four to six varieties per packet.
In general, we suggest trying to use more than one mix of lettuce seeds in any given bed. Mixing up your lettuce selections helps ensure that some of your crops receive the correct nutrients they require. That said, always check the labels on individual seeds to see exactly which vitamins and minerals they provide. Some seeds even contain antibiotics. So make sure to read those fine print details carefully. Your goal should be to eat healthily but not necessarily organic.
You can buy just one mixed pack of lettuce seeds or many separate packs of single varieties. But please note that mixing up your lettuce selection doesn’t mean that every plant needs to get something else entirely. You’ll still end up eating salads made with only lettuce leaves. Also keep in mind that no matter where you purchase your seeds, it’s likely they were genetically modified. A great alternative would be to go organic. Organic produce tends to have higher nutrient content due to its lack of synthetic fertilizers. However, this requires a lot more work on your part so it might not be worth it unless you really want lettuce organically.
What mixed Lettuce seeds to grow
There are hundreds of varieties of lettuce available, but here are our top picks for optimal flavor and nutrition:
Romaine Lettuce – Romaine lettuce makes for a crisp, fresh salad green. Its dark green leaves are super crunchy and full of vitamin C. Choose a looseleaf variety instead of pre-packaged heads. Loose-leaf lettuces give you extra space for adding crispy toppings like bacon bits or croutons. They’re also easier to clean up after.
Leaf Lettuce – Leaf lettuce is milder and sweeter than romaine. Like romaine, select loose-leaf varieties rather than packaged bunches. As mentioned earlier, leaf lettuce does not require any special care beyond regular watering and light exposure.
Butterheads – Butterhead lettuce grows into dense clusters of small red leaves. Unlike romaine varieties, these aren’t bitter-tasting. There are two major categories of butterhead lettuce: loose leaf and head. Both types offer slightly different qualities. Head lettuce varieties have larger hearts while loose leaf lettuce offers smaller hearted hearts. While both groups feature rich in antioxidants, head lettuce contains significantly less iron compared to loose leaf varieties.
Overall though, their health benefits are similar. To find the perfect butterhead for you, look for packages marked “best choice” or “superior quality.”
When to grow mixed Lettuce
As previously stated, lettuce is relatively simple to grow. All you need to remember is to follow the natural sun cycle. During summertime, lettuce prefers indirect sunlight. Try using window screens or shades to direct maximum amounts of sunshine toward your plants. Since lettuce thrives on high levels of phosphorus, potassium and calcium, make sure to add plenty of compost or manure around them. Water regularly, especially during hot summers. Don’t let them dry out completely either, otherwise they won’t survive long enough to reach maturity.
During winter times, lettuce shouldn’t receive excessive amounts of heat. Keep plants away from radiators and fireplaces. Instead, place them underneath overhanging tree branches or cover them with fleece fabric. After planting, protect the young plants from frost damage by covering them with row covers. Make sure to remove the covers once temperatures start rising above freezing. Remember to rotate your beds annually to avoid disease buildup.
If you’ve noticed tiny holes appearing on your lettuce leaves, that means aphids are present. Aphids suck sap from tender new shoots causing discoloration and eventually death. Get rid of them quickly by spraying affected areas with insecticides. Otherwise, try placing marbles or gravel beneath your rows to deter pests. Lastly, if you notice any bugs hanging around, consider getting a bug spray specifically designed for gardening.
How to grow mixed Lettuce seeds
After making your initial seeding plan, start planting immediately. Always sow seeds directly into the ground first. Doing so prevents dirt clumps from obstructing sprouts’ access to vital oxygen. Once sown, gently loosen existing soil within the same area.
Then fill the remaining gaps with additional dirt or sand. Using a trowel, spread approximately 1/2 cup of soil over each seeded plot. Next, take advantage of raindrops by sprinkling fertilizer pellets over the newly planted plots. Finally, tamp down lightly with hands.
Repeat steps until all seeds have been covered evenly. Seeds should ideally germinate within 3 days of being placed in the ground.
We highly recommend keeping tabs on your lettuce throughout its life span to prevent diseases and insects from developing.
Maintaining consistent moisture levels is essential for ensuring proper root development. Additionally, weeds pose serious threats to lettuce growth. Control weeds around your crop properly or risk losing valuable harvest. Removing weeds increases yields dramatically.
Lastly, if you haven’t already done so, you must now decide whether to transplant or leave your lettuce in pots. Transplanting gives your plants ample space to develop roots correctly. Pots help reduce the effects of extreme weather conditions, however they limit how deep your plants can grow.
When to harvest Lettuce
Most lettuce matures within 60 to 70 days depending upon temperature. Depending on location, lettuce harvests can begin anywhere between mid-June through August. Pick lettuce whenever the outer leaves appear vibrant and smooth. Leaves should feel firm without giving under moderate thumb pressure. When selecting lettuce, pick stalks with crisp, unblemished leaves.
Avoid wilted lettuce. If your lettuce starts showing signs of yellow blotchiness, mottled spots or wilting, you probably received too much nitrogen. Cut back on watering until symptoms disappear. If necessary, apply lime sulfur powder liberally around the base of lettuce plants. Wait another week and repeat application again.
Although lettuce leaves are edible, their stems and cores are actually toxic. Never consume these parts. Cutting off the tips of lettuce plants allows the rest of the plant to fully expand their roots. Leaving the bottom portion intact limits the overall size of the entire plant. Therefore, cutting lettuce ends encourages greater yield production.