Growing Lettuce for Early Eats

Lettuces growing in a cold frame

Lettuces growing in a cold frame

Growing lettuce is one of the best ways to get a super early harvest from your vegetable garden. Lettuce germinates quickly and reliably indoors under lights. You can also plant lettuce seeds directly in your garden or in a cold frame, but you may have to wait a bit for germination since lettuce requires a soil temperature of 40 degrees F or more. (The seeds will not germinate at temps above 80, however.)

Romaine lettuce starts growing in a window box

Romaine lettuce starts growing in a window box

For best results growing lettuce, start seeds indoors under lights in a potting soil or seed-starting medium. Sprinkle the seeds over the planting medium and cover them with a thin layer (1/8th to 1/4 inch) of soil. Keep them moist but not wet. A mister works great for that. Keep the plants in a relatively cool room since lettuce generally enjoys cooler temperatures.

Once the lettuce is up and has a few leaves, move it to the garden, a cold frame or a container. If spring weather is unpredictable (it’s Minnesota, right?), keeping them in a cold frame or in containers that are easy to move in and out of the house is a good idea.

Pablo lettuce

Pablo lettuce

There are lots of ways to use lettuce in the ornamental garden, too. Lettuce makes a cute edging plant with pansies or in a mixed herb container with cool season herbs such as parsley or chives.

The best lettuces for growing early in the season are leaf lettuces—the so-called “cut and come again” lettuces because you can harvest them repeatedly as long as you leave some of the plant to continue growing.

You can also plant lettuces later in the season for a fall crop.

What’s your favorite kind of lettuce to grow?

 

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