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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Starting Lettuce from Seed in the Vegetable Garden

It's that time of the year here in Tennessee where if you haven't already done so you might want to think about planting lettuce in your vegetable garden. Lettuce likes the cool air of early spring to start growing.  I planted three types of lettuce last week in our raised beds - all of which are heirlooms.

How I Plant My Lettuce:

Scatter and thin! Lettuce seeds are small and for a home garden I don't see any reason to worry with rows. I simply take a few pinches of lettuce seeds and scatter them as evenly as possible over the soil where I want them to grow. Then I press the seeds gently into the soil to insure good seed to soil contact, water, and I'm finished. When the lettuce grows larger we'll thin out the small plants as they grow and eat the fresh lettuce like microgreens. Tender young greens are great in salads and on sandwiches! Eventually we'll end up with good spacing for the lettuce through thinning.

What Kinds of Lettuce Did I Plant?

One of the two green lettuces is 'Tom Thumb'. It grows into small 2-3 inch heads. I picked Tom Thumb lettuce mostly as a novelty because I thought my girls would enjoy seeing "baby lettuce." Although admittedly I'm excited to see how this diminutive lettuce delivers in taste!



The other green variety is called 'Little Gem'. It's a small romaine type that I thought would be our main munching lettuce.


The third type of lettuce I planted is 'Rouge d'Hiver' which is a red heirloom romaine lettuce from France. I really enjoy having unusual colors of lettuce in the garden.  Last year we had a mixture of speckled romaine that had a nice flavor but I'm looking forward to seeing how these different heirloom varieties do. One goal with all of our vegetables is to produce our own seed supply for next year with the hope of reducing our gardening budget even further.


When the weather warms the lettuce will begin to bolt but I'll leave a couple heads of lettuce alone to produce its seed.  Then I'll collect and store it for a fall or spring crop. Either way we'll come out ahead, of lettuce that is!

8 comments :

  1. I planted lettuce this past weekend, in containers. I've not done containers before, but I'm sure they'll look great!

    I have to get some of those 'Tom Thumb' seeds! Sounds like something I'd love to grow.

    I planted spinach last week. I still had a few plants growing from last fall's crop!

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  2. Tell me how do you get seeds from lettuce. I've never grown lettuce before but I have started 2 packs of lettuce. One is 'curly lettuce' and the other is a mix from Hometown Seeds.

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  3. Looks to be a great day today. I'm heading outside myself. Your lettuce is going to be happy with this weather.

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  4. Kylee,

    Planting lettuce in containers is a great way to grow it! I used to have lettuce in containers all the time but since we have more space now it's in the garden. I'm looking forward to seeing how Tom Thumb does!

    Becca,

    If you let the lettuce bolt in the late spring or early summer you can collect the seeds a couple weeks or so after the stalks flower. Just watch the flowers to see when the seeds are forming. If a couple seeds fall off when you touch the stalk you're ready to collect.

    Tina,

    I'm on my way outdoors after I get the littlest one down for her nap! Picked up a few garden things this morning I want to play with - new loppers, solar lights, and a euphorbia with dark purple foliage.

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  5. I love lettuce from the garden. It's so easy too. A couple of years ago I bought one of those salad spinners to dry the lettuce after I dunk it in a sink of water. It makes such a difference.
    Happy gardening!

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  6. Love my salads. I planned to plant lettuce this Spring but have not done so as yet. I fear it may be too late now. I may try anyway.

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  7. The lettuce will taste so good later on when it is warm! Nothing better than a fresh salad after a day working hard on the sun! Good luck with your unusual lettuces!

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  8. Love your little seedlings, Dave! I just planted mine Sunday, and I too use the scatter and thin technique. Looking forward to watching mine come up. Your choices are great, but I confess that I love the speckled romaine, too!

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