There are so many different types of lettuce and each one brings a different set of flavours to your meals. Plus, these crunchy leaves are all boosted full of essential minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin A which promotes eye health and vitamin K which contributes to bone strength. Yet lettuce is relatively easy to cultivate. You just need to follow a few simple guidelines on how to grow lettuce and you will be well on your way to having your very own salad patch.
All lettuce varieties grow best in a colder climate. Their ideal temperature range is between 15°C and 20°C.
Lower temperatures are more tolerated and lettuce is even considered frost hardy. Although if exposed to frost for long periods of time the plant will freeze. Unfortunately, lettuce cannot defrost so this will cause the plant to eventually die.
However, anything over about 28°C will cause the plant to mature faster and go to seed before the heads are ready to be harvested.
If in a warmer climate lettuce will grow well in partial shade, but not in total shade. Ideally, lettuce will want cooler temperatures and to be planted in full sun. Regardless of temperature, try to ensure that your plants get at least 4 hours of full sun each day. Although they would be happier with more.
Lettuce has shallow roots, so your soil does not need to be soaked too deep. Soil that is moist up to about 5 cm deep will keep the plants happy. But bear in mind that to grow its leaves lettuce requires a fair amount of water so the plants will need consistent watering.
While keeping your soil moist avoid overwatering. If the soil is too wet, plants can get a fungal disease and the root system can be damaged by root rot.
Lettuce grows best in loose soil with good drainage. Additionally, it is a plant that thrives in a nutrient-rich environment. So while preparing the ground, consider mixing in compost to increase the nitrogen content of your soil.
Plus, the addition of organic materials will increase drainage while also improving your soil’s ability to retain moisture.
Ideally, the pH of the soil should be kept between 6 and 7.
The plant’s space requirements will vary depending on the kind of lettuce planted. However in general you should place each plant roughly 15 to 20 centimetres apart.
When planting seeds, you will notice the seeds are quite small. The grown plant’s roots also remain quite shallow, so you won’t want to sew its seeds too deep. Try planting each seed no deeper than one centimetre below the surface.