How to Grow Leaf Lettuce

by on January 3, 2012

Who says lettuce has to be boring? Growing leaf lettuce is a great way to get more variety in your salad without taking up a lot of space.


Leaf lettuces can be grown in well-cultivated soil, in a raised bed or even in a container on your patio or terrace and so long as it gets plenty of water and sunlight, you will have lettuce all season long.

Temp Range: 50 – 60 degrees F
Seed to Plate: 55 days
Light Needs: min. 4-6 hours of full sun, partial shade per day
How Much to Grow Per Person: 6 plants per person for  3-4x per week consumption
Average Space Needs: 4-6 plants / 1 Square Foot
Water Needs: moist, well drained soil
Soil pH: slightly acid, 6.0 –6.5

Growing Leaf Lettuce

In our shop we offer a big selection of lettuce seed, any of which would be a great addition to your garden. If you’re new to growing lettuce at home, I strongly suggest that you try Black Seeded Simpson. It is delicious and prolific. Direct sow leaf lettuce seed outdoors when the temperatures are consistently in the 40 degrees F range or above. Sow 4-6 seeds in each square foot of space in the ground or in containers. When seedlings are about 2” tall, thin them to about 6” apart if necessary. The best part is that with leaf lettuces you can eat the thinnings in your next salad so nothing goes to waste.

The best part about growing leaf lettuce at home is knowing where your food comes from, but if you consider the cost of good quality organic lettuce at the market, growing your own lettuce is really a no-brainer. For the cost of half a pound of mixed greens you can have  enough seed to supply lettuce for your entire family all season long.

Harvesting Leaf Lettuce

It is best to harvest leaf lettuces early in the day before the sun is too high in the sky as they will be less susceptible to wilt. If you carefully clip just the leaves you want for your immediate use, you’ll give the plants plenty of time to produce again and again throughout the growing season. Depending on the type and variety of leaf lettuce you grow, your harvest could begin in as few as 45 days.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Meremade January 4, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Hello! I have been growing leaf lettuce in my garden box, which also houses a variety of greens. Recently, I’ve noticed that the lettuce leaves are dried out (and in one case an entire head was dry). I’m wondering if this is because I am not harvesting them quickly enough? Or if it’s because some of the other plants in thebox have grown quite tall and are keeping my lettuce from the sun. They are definitely getting enough water. Any insight as to how I can help my poor lettuce leaves so they stop turning brown?


Michael Nolan January 4, 2012 at 12:06 PM

Your instincts are right. Sounds like your lettuce is getting more than enough water and not enough sun. Be sure your containers are draining adequately, because if the moisture sits on the lettuce for too long coupled with inadequate sunlight, you’re going to get browning that will eventually dry out.


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