How to Grow Lettuce from Seed to Harvest

lettuce is a great crop for home

gardeners to grow it's a very popular

vegetable it's easy to grow and it grows

fast today I'll show you how to grow

lettuce from seed to harvest the most

Americans grow up on iceberg lettuce

which is most commonly found in

supermarkets and in restaurants there

are hundreds of different lettuce

varieties and many different colors to

choose from in addition to solid head

varieties like iceberg there are many

varieties of loose head or Bibb lettuce

leaf lettuce and romaine lettuce of

these loose and bib lettuces are the

fastest and easiest to grow and may be

the best choice for many home gardeners

you can start lettuce indoors in a grow

room or south-facing window 7 to 8 weeks

before your average last frost date and

transplant outside as early as four

weeks before your last frost of course

you can delay transplanting if the

ground is still frozen covered in snow

or it's unseasonally cold but lettuce

can handle frost so don't wait until

after your last frost date to plant you

can also direct sow lettuce in the

garden as early as four weeks before the

last frost assuming the soil is thawed

and isn't covered in snow for a fall

crop so let us again starting seven to

eight weeks before the first frost

lettuce tends to bolt and go to seed in

hot weather but if you have cool summers

you may be able to succession plant

lettuce all summer long and if

temperatures rarely dip below freezing

where you live you may be able to grow

lettuce through the winter to start

indoors plant seeds 1/4 inch deep and a

quality potting mix if the seeds are new

I might play only one seed bracel but

with older seeds I plant two to three

seeds to increase the likelihood that at

least one of the seeds will germinate if

there are extra plants I either snip the

extras or transplant them into empty

cells my experienced lettuce seeds

usually stay viable for a couple years

if stored in a sealed container in a

dark dry location I recommend starting a

lettuce in cells or pots that are large

enough for the plants to remain in

throughout their time in the grow room

this way you don't have to transplant to

larger pots before transplanting into

the garden and you minimize disruption

of the plant's roots after planting

seeds tamp down the soil to make sure

the seeds are in contact with the soil

in place yourselves just a couple inches

under your girl lights or in a sunny

south-facing window the seed should

germinate in seven to 14 days if your

plants get leggy it's likely because

they aren't getting enough light so you

may need to lower your lights in the

grow room or add supplemental lighting

in your south-facing window lettuce

seeds germinate best when the soil

temperatures between 40 to 60 degrees

Fahrenheit the germination rates decline

when the soil temperature is warmer than

68 degrees so heating mats usually

aren't needed unless you're growing in a

very cool area if you use a

nutrient-rich potting mix you shouldn't

have to fertilize the plants while

they're in the grow room we use a mixer

it's 25% of vermicompost from our worm

bins and never use additional fertilizer

however if you're using a potting mix

that isn't fortified with nutrients you

can feed the plants every couple of

weeks after the true leaves appear with

a liquid fertilizer let just needs

consistent but moderate watering so we

try not to let the soil you're too soggy

or to let it dry out for very long in

the grow room we water on top at first

until germination but after germination

we add a little water to the seedling

tray when the soil starts to dry out

again we don't add enough water to

create soggy soil conditions if the soil

does get soggy we pour off excess water

from the tray now let's talk about

planting and transplanting lettuce

outside lettuce thrives in fertile

friable soil that has a pH between 6.5

and 7 our pH is a bit higher than that

but let it still grows very well here

where spring fall and winter harvests we

plant in full Sun but for summer

harvests we plant in partial shade to

delay bolting which can be brought on by

the summer heat the plants take the heat

as a signal that their life cycle is

ending and it's time to reproduce plant

started indoors can be transplanted into

the garden as early as four weeks before

the last frost but as I said earlier you

can delay transplanting if the ground is

still frozen covered with snow or Sun

seasonably cold however you don't have

to wait until there's no threat of frost

let us can handle a frost and grows best

in cool weather so don't wait too long

to plant if you want to get the most out

of your lettuce we find the lettuce

transitions fairly easily from indoors

to outdoor conditions but before

transplanting we gradually harden off

plans to outdoor conditions by leaving

them outside for progressively longer

periods of time over the course of at

least a few days we apply compost or

vermicompost to the soil surface before

transplanting and we place the plants in

the ground at about the same depth that

they were in the pot so that the lower

leaves are slightly above the soil


if those leaves come in contact with the

soil they can rot so we try not to bury

too deeply a good starting point for

beginners in terms of plant spacing is

to space the plant at 6 inches apart or

4 per square foot which is the square

foot garden spacing you can also direct

sow lettuce in the garden starting as

early as 4 weeks before the last frost

assuming the soil is workable and not

covered in snow just apply compost to

the soil surfaced plant seeds a quarter

inch deep with spacing of four plants

per square foot and cover the seeds

though we sometimes follow the square

foot garden spacing of four plants per

square foot we also often plant much

more intensively than that for example

lettuce grows much more slowly in the

falling winter so when we plan for

falling winter harvest we plant it much

closer together because we know that it

will take longer to reach full size and

closer spacing gives us more to harvest

when growth is slow and when the plants

start to get too crowded

we simply harvest the outer leaves of

the plants to make more room we also

sometimes densely broadcast seeds and

then harvest young plants using a cut

and come again approach all this means

is that we snip the entire plant about

an inch above the soil and then the

plants will regrow they'll continue to

regrow after repeated cuttings until the

plants go to seed

lettuce is a fairly heavy feeder but we

find that we can maintain enough soil

fertility simply by making annual

applications of compost and mulch if

your soil isn't as fertile as ours your

crop may benefit from an organic

fertilizer with a broad spectrum of

nutrients just make sure not to use too

much nitrogen because it can make

lettuce taste bitter let us need to

consistent moderate watering try to

avoid letting the soil get completely

dry or soggy lettuce can taste bitter

it's the soil is allowed to remain dry

for too long let us also grow as best if

there isn't too much competition from

weeds so make sure to keep the area

weeded in organic mulch such as autumn

leaves or wood chips will help maintain

more consistent moisture levels in the

soil and suppress weeds lettuce grows

best in cool weather and when it gets

hot the plants will bolt and go to seed

like this one is doing right now but

there are ways to extend the harvest a

bit into the summer by delaying bolting

and you can do this by having the plants

in partial shade or shade or grow them

under a shade cloth there are also

lettuce varieties that are slower to

bolt in hot weather including Mura

lettuce and here's a list of other

lettuce varieties that are slower to


if you wait for plans to be fully mature

before harvesting most varieties are

ready to harvest in 45 to 55 days but

Romain takes longer about 75 to 85 days

and crisp heads take even longer seventy

to a hundred days but you can start

harvesting much earlier than that simply

by harvesting only the outer leaves as

the plants are growing or you can

harvest even earlier by planting very

densely and harvesting young plants

using the cut and come again approach I

described earlier lettuce is susceptible

to a number of different paths you can

protect your plants from four-legged

creatures like rabbits deer and

woodchucks with fences and other

barriers and Sluggo plus is an excellent

organic control for pests like slugs

snails cut worms and Roly Polys finally

lettuce is cold hardy enough that we can

harvest it here in our zone 5 garden all

winter long in our hoop house under two

layers of cover there's a lot involved

in season extension so I won't get into

all the details today instead I'll make

a separate video on how we grow lettuce

and harvest lettuce through the winter

here in zone 5 and when that video is

available I'll put a link here so if

you've never grown lettuce before or

you've tried and didn't have much luck I

hope this video will help you have more

success in the future I think the

biggest takeaway is that lettuce likes

cool weather so don't wait until after

your last frost to plant I hope to make

more of these how to grow videos

focusing on specific crops if there's a

crop you'd like to see me cover in a

future video please let me know in a

comment below

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