Lettuce is a lovely thing to grow in your garden. It's a prolific producer under the right conditions, and you'll find youself eating it on or with everything. A few leaves on a sandwich, a sure-why-not salad, maybe some Asian lettuce wraps for an appetizer? It's easy to integrate it even further into your diet, once you learn how to grow lettuce. And as a venerable member of the so-called "dirty dozen" list, produce that's most contaminated with pesticides, you'll do yourself and your family a favor by growing your own organically.
|Rogue Valley Gardener|
When to Grow It
While lettuce can be grown in the summer in the Rogue Valley, it's most successful as a spring/early summer and fall crop. It prefers cooler temperatures, so if you're going to give it a go in the summer, shadecloth is a must, as is a bolt-resistant summer variety. ("Bolt-resistant" means it won't go to seed--bolt--immediately.) March is an ideal time to get your seeds in the garden (if you're growing leaf lettuce; head lettuce can go in sooner), and you can keep planting through September if you'd like. That means right now is a good time to plan things out.
Like other veggies, lettuce likes nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. It likes sunshine and plenty of water. Being a leafy plant, it needs sufficient nitrogen to grow, so you can mulch your lettuce plants with grass clippings. Lettuce grows best when the temperature is 55 to 60 degrees, and the temperature of the soil should be 40 or above for the seeds to germinate.
Sprinkle seeds on the ground and cover them with just a bit of dirt (more like a dusting, or according to the package). Thin out sprouts when they start to grow.
You're not the only one who wants to eat your lettuce. Your friendly garden earwigs will be delighted you've chosen to grow them a buffet they can live in. With so many dark nooks to hide and so much to munch on, earwigs can be a real pain to get rid of. Bait is your best option for dealing with earwigs, though there are other options, like rolled-up newspapers and small cups of beer, that allegedly work.
Aphids like lettuce, too. You can spray off your lettuce inside or with a garden hose, or dilute a bit of dish soap into water and spray the lettuce plants. (The soap washes off when you rinse your lettuce before eating.)
Head lettuce can be a pain to grow--it gets earwiggier and can be frustrating when it doesn't "head" properly. Leaf lettuce is easy and can be snipped off as individual leaves from the stalk.
Try growing a variety of colors: green, red, green tinted with red...