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How to Easily Grow Garden Leaf Lettuce

Updated on March 11, 2016
MBurgess profile image

Gardening is my second passion. I love to watch seed turn to living plant and flower evolve into an edible thing. Spring enchants me.

Black Seeded Simpson Leaves

Black Seeded Simpson lettuce is a bright green leafy plant. The taste when picked early is mild, but as it grows it tends to be bitter. A shot of vinegar in a salad made with this leaf will compliment this lettuce well.
Black Seeded Simpson lettuce is a bright green leafy plant. The taste when picked early is mild, but as it grows it tends to be bitter. A shot of vinegar in a salad made with this leaf will compliment this lettuce well. | Source

Conquering Black Seeded Simpson and Mixed Lettuce Varieties

Growing and conquering leaf lettuce is my goal for 2014. I have attempted it in the past, but it failed to produce like I wanted it to. I always lose it to the heat. This year, I am determined to grow leaf lettuce again and so far -- I am winning! I have found a way to produce fluffy, tasty baby lettuce leaves on a steady basis. The leaf lettuce variety I have found to work best is Black Seeded Simpson. It does well for me in the Las Vegas desert where I live. The climate here can be hazardous to tender plants like lettuce. They have to be grown and monitored carefully for them to survive.

Lettuce is a delicate plant and can be difficult to master. It is this plant's fussy nature that I have battled for years. If there is one garden plant I truly want to have on hand it is lettuce. I grow it for convenience because I love my salads. The ability to have my own salad garden is the primary function of the backyard garden I dedicate time to. It is a labor of love, the hours I spend here.

Let us wander through the garden so I can show you what I have discovered.

The Benefits of Homegrown Lettuce

Nutritional Values

Fresh, homegrown lettuce is not only a health benefit because its environment is controlled, it contains trace elements like calcium, copper, and iron (Dole Food Company, Inc., 2010.) The nutritional value of these tender green leaves is excellent. They contain more vitamins and minerals than does iceberg lettuce and the darker leaves provide beta carotene. Using no pesticides creates an organic product and monitoring the growing of the plants is wonderful therapy. Exposure to the sun's energy a few minutes each day while working in the garden provides valuable vitamin D to the body. Tending a garden is a great way to enjoy some outdoor time and fresh air, something we could always use more of.

Black Seeded Simpson seeds - Organic Variety

Everwilde Farms - 1 Oz Organic Black Seeded Simpson Leaf Lettuce Seeds - Gold Vault Packet
Everwilde Farms - 1 Oz Organic Black Seeded Simpson Leaf Lettuce Seeds - Gold Vault Packet

A tiny packet of seeds will keep you supplied with a nice crop of Black Seeded Simpson lettuce leaves. Plant early. The variety likes cooler temperatures. Pick when the leaf is about four inches tall or transplant and cultivate a larger batch of greens for salads.

 

Black Seeded Simpson - Heirloom Lettuce Seeds

The best Black Seeded Simpson seeds or plants you can buy are heirloom variety. Make sure you read the labels carefully when making your selection. These seeds are protected from cross pollination by careful methods, usually by isolation of the plant and netting of the flowers. They are passed down from generation to generation. The idea is to keep them as pure as possible so that when the new plant flowers and goes to seed it will give and produce a healthy plant and food crop that is free of genetically modified organisms and tampering.

Eventually you may collect your own heirloom seeds by letting your lettuce plant go to flower and seed. This is best done in late spring and summer months. I let mine develop their lovely yellow blossoms and when they formed the seed pods, I clipped them from the plant for use in the following year's garden. An added benefit of this process is allowing the pollinating insects an additional flower to gather nectar.

Individual Lettuce Plant - Image: M Burgess
Individual Lettuce Plant - Image: M Burgess

Growing Lettuce - Successfully

Lettuce is a delicate plant and can be difficult to master. It is this plant's fussy nature that I have battled for years. If there is one garden plant I truly want to have on hand it is lettuce. I grow it for convenience because I love my salads. The ability to have my own salad garden is the primary function of the backyard garden I dedicate time to. It is a labor of love, the hours I spend here.

This leafy row may be harvested as soon as the leaves are about 4 inches tall. Simply clip leaves off the plant as needed. Leave behind at least 2 leaves for the plant to continue to grow until it begins to bud out for flowers. From that stage, allow the plant to seed out and start another batch of lettuce. The individually grown plant will bunch out if left to grow in a wide space all its own. Allow a 10 inches to one foot of space between plants if planting individually.

The Materials For Growing Lettuce - In Your Own Backyard

First grab one of those nursery trays. Most garden centers will let you have them for free.
First grab one of those nursery trays. Most garden centers will let you have them for free.

Next: Add a Layer of Newspaper

Soak a piece of newspaper in water and gently fit it into the bottom of the tray. This holds in the soil and gives the tray stability.
Soak a piece of newspaper in water and gently fit it into the bottom of the tray. This holds in the soil and gives the tray stability.

Fill With Organic Soil

Fill with organic soil to 1/2 inch from the top of the tray. Form rows in the soil to organize the tiny growing bed. Plant seeds every 4 inches.
Fill with organic soil to 1/2 inch from the top of the tray. Form rows in the soil to organize the tiny growing bed. Plant seeds every 4 inches.

Water The Soil Well - And Watch It Grow

The tiny lettuce sprouts will appear in 7 - 10 days after planting. When they are about 3 inches tall replanting may be done, but it is not necessary.
The tiny lettuce sprouts will appear in 7 - 10 days after planting. When they are about 3 inches tall replanting may be done, but it is not necessary.

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce - Thriving In Trays

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Small drops of water glisten from this mornings shower. These plants grow well in tiny, crowded bunches or with individual space.Plant lettuce every week to insure a steady crop of tasty leaves. I am planting new seeds each weekend. Maintain 2 trays per household member.Inspect for pests daily. Aphids and tiny worms will devastate your plants in minutes. This leaf is at the almost ready to harvest size.Rinsed lettuce leaves may keep for a few days in the fridge. Layer a piece of paper towel on the bottom of a plastic container to maintain moisture.
Small drops of water glisten from this mornings shower. These plants grow well in tiny, crowded bunches or with individual space.
Small drops of water glisten from this mornings shower. These plants grow well in tiny, crowded bunches or with individual space.
Plant lettuce every week to insure a steady crop of tasty leaves. I am planting new seeds each weekend. Maintain 2 trays per household member.
Plant lettuce every week to insure a steady crop of tasty leaves. I am planting new seeds each weekend. Maintain 2 trays per household member.
Inspect for pests daily. Aphids and tiny worms will devastate your plants in minutes. This leaf is at the almost ready to harvest size.
Inspect for pests daily. Aphids and tiny worms will devastate your plants in minutes. This leaf is at the almost ready to harvest size.
Rinsed lettuce leaves may keep for a few days in the fridge. Layer a piece of paper towel on the bottom of a plastic container to maintain moisture.
Rinsed lettuce leaves may keep for a few days in the fridge. Layer a piece of paper towel on the bottom of a plastic container to maintain moisture.

Tips For Growing Lettuce:

If the lettuce is to be grown in a mild climate, it may be set out in direct sun. Be sure to water frequently. Lettuce thrives on moist, but not damp soil. Ideally, watering should be done in early morning hours for the plant to absorb it effectively. The desert temperatures force too much sun and I have found growing lettuce in my north shady beds to be the most effective way to maintain these delicate crops.

The spring harvest has begun at my home garden and I am happy that this year included lettuce. These tiny leaves are a bit tricky to coax out of their seeds, but once they get going they are a joy to greet in the garden. If you have any tips or concerns, feel free to leave them here or in the debate module above.

Thank you for visiting! Let us graze, shall we?

How To Easily Grow Garden Leaf Lettuce - Guestbook and Comments

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    • MBurgess profile imageAUTHOR

      Maria Burgess 

      4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      @paulahite: Oh, hey, thank you!!

    • paulahite profile image

      Paula Hite 

      4 years ago from Virginia

      Shared on our Facebook page today!!

      https://www.facebook.com/GreenThumbOnSquidoo

    • MBurgess profile imageAUTHOR

      Maria Burgess 

      4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      @ohcaroline: You are welcome! I hope it works for you. Lettuce hasn't been the easiest thing for me to grow until now. Thank you for your comment! =)

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 

      4 years ago

      This is a great tutorial. I hope to be in a place soon where I can follow your instructions and grow my own lettuce as well. Thanks for the information.

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