Gardeners aching to get outside, shake off the winter chill,
and dig their hands in the dirt, planting a lettuce bed is an
ideal activity. Lettuce is also a good introductory crop for
READY THE SOIL
Prepare for spring planting by mulching soil over the winter. Once summer and fall crops
are done, remove the old plant material, and cover the soil with chopped leaves or grass
clippings from your yard. This keeps the weeds down and prevents soil erosion from winter
wind and rain. Lettuce works well in raised beds. Soil temperatures warm up more quickly
in a raised bed than in thr ground, speeding up seed germination and plant growth.
SEED OR TRANSPLANT?
Lettuce can be planted using transplants or directly seeded into the soil. In the spring, transplants
work particularly well because they provide a jump start on the season and are hardy enough to
withstand most springtime temperature swings. Depending on the variety and the weather, lettuce
can be planted as early as late February and the beginning of March. If temperatures drop significantly,
use a row cover to protect lettuce from damage.
PICK YOUR GREENS
Lettuce comes in numerous varieties, which can be harvested as a head or as leaves. Many varieties
allow for different harvesting techniques, depending upon your preference. Pick the outer leaves at
the preferred stage of maturity, or let the head of lettuce mature and harvest it whole. Gradually
harvesting lettuce leaves every couple of days extends the harvest season as the plant continues to
produce leaves. Several lettuce varieties are both edible and decorative enough for use in flower beds
or containers on the porch.
Water is the key to healthy lettuce. Lettuce likes an inch of water a week, or it will turn bitter.
If using potting soil or another dark soil, the dirt should be the color of dark chocolate when
properly watered. If it's the color of milk chocolate, it needs water. Another test is to stick your
finger in the soil down to your second knuckle; the soil should be moist to that depth. As for
sunlight requirements, lettuce only requires about four hours a day but the more sunlight the
PREPARE FOR FALL
Lettuce is a dual season crop in our area. once the summer season arrives, lettuce will bolt,
which means it goes to seed and it leaves become bitter. But keep lettuce in mind for a fall
crop, planting in late August or September.
Source: By Leah Hughes
Charlotte Home Garden