Lettuce seeds can be planted directly on the ground, although it poses a higher risk of exposing your seedlings to pests. It is advisable to start with seedlings in trays or pots before planting them where you want.
There are many types of lettuce that can be grown in your garden. Many of them can be sown all year round but lettuces are cool weather plants and do not grow well under the summer heat. It is best planted early in spring and then again in late summer or early fall when the temperature is cooler.
Here are the steps in germinating your lettuce seeds:
- Sow the seeds onto a fine soil in a seedling tray then just cover them lightly with potting soil. Do sow very shallowly as they need light to germinate.
- Lettuce seeds won’t sprout when soil temperatures are above 80°F but they will start to germinate as low as 40°F, making it ideal for early and late season planting. In warm weather, soaking the seeds in water for at least 16 hours before planting in a well-lit area will increase the germination percentages greatly.
- Water them gently after sowing. Keep the soil moist but not wet.
Lettuce seeds usually germinate within 7 days. Once your seedlings are around the 2 or 3 true leaf stage, you can plant them out where you want them.
You may sow a few seeds every couple of weeks to avoid bumper crops.
To avoid getting a bitter-tasting lettuce, you need to grow it quickly. This means preparing your soil before transplanting and keeping the water up to them as they grow. A setback in growth may cause them to go a little bitter or bolt to seed.
When you get seedlings with 2 or 3 true leaves, transplant them carefully on an area in your garden where you want them to grow.
Here are the guidelines in caring for your lettuce plant:
Soil – you need a moist well-drained soil that is slightly on the alkaline side. You can increase the pH by adding some bone meal or dolomite and dig it in few weeks before transplanting your lettuce. Use a soft, well composted soil for your lettuce.
Water – need to give water regular
Mulch – Lay a thick mulch of straw or wood chips on the ground of at least 1 1/2 to 2 inches. This insulates the soil from becoming too hot and drying out too fast. Also, it preserves moisture in the soil. Shading the lettuce plants can give enough temperature drop to keep them from bolting up to 3 – 5 weeks.
Pests – lettuces are slugs and snails’ favorite. You can control these pests by picking them off and crushing them underfoot. Another option is using a plastic snail and slug trap with a sugar and yeast solution where these pests crawl overnight and drown.
Harvest – Depending on the variety it can take anywhere from 6 to 14 weeks from sowing to become ready for harvest.