ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Planting Lettuce for a Sustainable Harvest

Updated on January 8, 2023
cygnetbrown profile image

Cygnet Brown is a high school and middle school substitute teacher. She is the author of fourteen books and a long-time gardener.

Lettuce for the Frugal

One of my aunts was a very frugal woman. She had a small 4x4 foot garden where grew, picked, and ate her own leaf lettuce every day of the growing season. Every day for lunch she ate a salad of lettuce she picked from her garden. She knew that as long as she kept the lettuce picked daily, she would have plenty of lettuce for her salad from the moment the first leaves were big enough to pick until long after the first frost in the autumn.

Types of Lettuce

One type of lettuce that often comes to the mind of most people is head lettuce and the most common type is the iceberg. Iceberg is popular commercially because it tolerates hot weather and ships well. It is the least nutritious lettuce and lacks vitamin B found in other types. I prefer more flavorful alternative types of lettuce.

Romaine lettuce, also known as Coz, offers higher nutrition. Its crunchy leaves also tolerate heat and are easy to grow. The white hearts can be used as a substitute for celery.

Boston or butterhead lettuce has tender outer leaves and white yellowish hearts. This type of lettuce is also highly nutritious and the taste and texture are excellent. Many of these types of lettuce need cool weather and rich, highly organic soil to produce well.

Finally, there are leaf lettuce types that are nutritious and many tolerate warmer temperatures than other lettuce types. These lettuce types have loose open growth patterns and leaves range from smooth to frilly and from light green to ruby red. As my aunt could attest, by picking the outer leaves of leaf lettuces, plants will grow new ones to pick later.

Planting Lettuce

Strawberries, cucumbers, carrots, onions, and radishes all make good companion plants for lettuce. Lettuce requires cool weather and plenty of moisture to keep from bolting and the seed will not germinate in the summer heat. If you want to plant lettuce for the summer, start it before the summer heat and plant in a shady area to extend your harvest through the summer.

Lettuce does best in humus organic well-drained soil with plenty of nitrogen. Prepare bed, then broadcast lettuce seed across the growing area. rake lightly to cover the seeds. A small package of seed will produce as much as fifty pounds of leaf lettuce.

Because some lettuce types do better in cooler weather and others are more heat tolerant, it makes sense to plant cooler weather lettuce as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring and then plant subsequent plantings of lettuce that are more heat tolerant. If you later plant lettuce in shady areas of the yard and give them adequate water, they are less likely to go to seed during hot weather. For a fall harvest, plant head or cos types, and then as the weather cools, plant rapid-growing leaf lettuce that may take you well into the winter months in milder climates.

Care of Growing Lettuce

When the seedlings have their first set of full leaves, thin the lettuce to about a foot apart and use the thinned-out lettuce as you would any lettuce. Lettuce requires lots of water and has shallow roots, so it is important to keep the soil moist, but not saturated. Like most annual vegetables, make certain that the lettuce gets an inch of water per week. Water in the morning to prevent disease. To help conserve water, apply a thick layer of mulch. This will also keep dirt off lettuce leaves and make them easier to clean when you go to wash them to eat.

For quick growth, apply compost tea a couple of times during the growing season. If the lettuce plants start to get taller, they are starting to bolt, in other words, go to seed. To stop this process, pinch off the center of the plant. Lettuce that has bolted tastes bitter so you won't want to eat it. Therefore if plants bolt, you will want to pull them and add them to the compost pile or give it to your chickens to enjoy.

Slugs are a common pest in lettuce. To rid your garden of slugs, place boards around lettuce plants at night, and then in the morning, turn the boards over and remove slugs (chickens love eating slugs too).

If you see tiny holes in your lettuce leaves and see tiny flies flying around plants, you have aphids. Spray your lettuce with soapy water (Put a piece of a bar of ivory soap in a spray bottle). You can also dust it with a few wood ashes or DE (Diatomaceous Earth).

Like all annuals, move lettuce to different parts of the garden to avoid most plant diseases.

How to Harvest Lettuce

Pick lettuce early in the morning, and pick it often. Cut head lettuce with a knife below the lowest leaves. Harvest leaf lettuce by pinching the outer leaves. Wash lettuce thoroughly as soon as you bring it in from the garden. For the best results, put the lettuce in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to make the lettuce crisp. To maintain high nutritional value, it is best if used within eight hours but will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Cygnet Brown


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)