How To Grow Better Lettuce

Lettuce growing tips

CULTURE: Lettuce is hardy and can be planted as early as the soil can be worked. It is a cool weather crop and makes its best growth at temperatures of 60-65°F (16-18°C). Careful variety selection is important for hot weather crops. Sow every 3 weeks for a continuous supply of fresh lettuce.

THERMAL DORMANCY: Lettuce can be dormant at high temperatures. For best germination results sow at soil temperatures of 68°F (20°C) or lower. The priming process in pelleted lettuce seeds broadens the temperature range in which the seeds will germinate, overcoming some of their thermal dormancy.

TRANSPLANTING: Sow in flats, 4 seeds/in., or in 3/4″ plug trays, barely covering seeds with fine vermiculite, 3-4 weeks before transplanting outdoors. Shade the flats on sunny, warm days if necessary to keep the soil surface cool, below 75°F (24°C), until germination. If sowing into flats, transplant 1-2″ apart into flats, pots, or cell-type containers about 2 weeks later. Harden seedlings by reducing water and temperature for 2-3 days before planting outdoors. Properly hardened transplants can survive temperatures as low as 20°F (-6°C). Transplant iceberg lettuce 12″ apart in rows 18″ apart, other types 8-12″ x 12-18″ apart.

DIRECT SEEDING: Seeds germinate even at low, 40°F (4°C), soil temperature, but poorly above 75-85°F (24-29°C) depending on the variety and seed lot. Sow seeds 1″ apart, rows 12-18″ apart. Cover seed lightly, about 1/8″, and firm soil gently. Dry soil must be watered to ensure coolness and moisture, and for even germination.

FULL-SIZED HEADS: Begin sowing in spring as soon as the soil is ready, 3 seeds every 8″, rows 12-18″ apart. Thin young seedlings to one plant every 8″.

SALAD MIX/BABY LEAF: Sow in a 2-4″ wide band, about 60 seeds/ft. MT0

DAYS TO MATURITY: For full-size heads in mild temperatures, from direct seeding; subtract 10-14 days if transplanting. Note: Maturity can be 3 or more weeks later in cool weather, and up to 1 week earlier in hot weather.

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