A fun and easy (most of the time) thing to grow is lettuce. Lettuce can be planted almost any time of the year. But, the best times are in the spring and fall. Lettuce is a crop that can be raised during cold weather that will kill out most other garden plants. The biggest problem comes with hot weather.
Let’s start with the beginning, that’s always a good place to start. With lettuce the place to start is with the soil. Lettuce will grow just about anywhere. It is best to give it a fertile well drained soil.
I like to mix a quarter to half inch of fine compost into the place where I plan to plant. The compost needs to be fine as lettuce seeds are tiny and can get lost in cloddy soil. I have sifted compost to get the fine quality that is needed.
When ready to plant I will take a small piece of wood, about 1 x 1 or 2 inches and make an impression in the soil with its edge, so it is like a mini row you make with a hoe.
Lettuce seeds are so small they are hard to handle. I have one of those little hand seeders that makes it easier, but you can plant them by hand by taking a pinch of seeds and rubbing them out between your fingers. You can always thin the plants after they come up, but that is more work. As they grow you can pull the ones that are crowded and put them in the salad.
If you do not care if the row is not real straight you can just sprinkle the seeds on the soil surface and work them into the soil with your fingers. They do not need much soil cover to sprout and too much will prevent them from making it.
Water the ground well before and right after they peek through. If the weather is dry or hot keep the growing plants watered as they will stress easily.
In hot weather it is best to plant under a shade cloth or next to a larger plant that will give shade to the lettuce. Lettuce will bolt in hot weather, that is, go to seed, which gives the plants a bitter taste.
The best strategy is to make secession plantings to keep some young tender lettuce on hand for your salad. I try to plant more lettuce through the summer as the last batch comes through the ground.
You can use most anything to shade the lettuce. I have covered it with a double layer of floating row cover, planted it under corn, tomatoes, next to the cucumber trellis and a lot of other places. At times I have even planted lettuce in a large flower pot under a tree.
The secret is to just keep planting in a place that will give the lettuce the protection it needs and you will be rewarded with fresh tender salads all year. We will talk about growing lettuce in the winter at another time.
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Steve Wisley has been gardening organically for over a quarter of a century. Gardening is a great way to, not only, grow great tasting, healthy, chemical free food that is good for your family, but gardening is reconnecting with your soul. It is getting your hands in the stuff that life is based upon, and it can heal some of hurt you feel inside.
Steve started this blog to guide others in starting and improving their organic garden to produce healthy, nutritious, great tasting food for their family. Pick up your copy of the booklet “6 Easy Common Sense Tips To Ban Bugs From Your Garden Without Chemicals”.