Lettuce Growing and Harvest Information
Where to grow Lettuce
Lettuce can be grown practically anywhere. Lettuce it is a cool-season vegetable, with an ideal temperature of 50-60 degrees. It does poorly in hot weather, and is tolerant to some frost and light freezes. The leafy types mature quickly and are more suited for warm climates. Cos is also more heat tolerant. It will prefer a little shade during the warmer part of the season. It can be grown year round with proper varieties, and some additional winter protection. Lettuce will generally grow best in the spring and fall seasons.
Soil for Lettuce
Lettuce doesn’t do well in very acidic soils, and some say the pH shouldn’t be lower than 6.5. A rich, muck “celery” soil is excellent for lettuce, but the crop will also do well in average garden soil. The best crops are grown in soil that is deeply enriched with well-rotted manure and is well-fertilized before planting, especially with high nitrogen (leaf-stimulating) fertilizers such as 10-8-4, cottonseed meal, or blood meal.
How Lettuce Grows
Lettuce is about 95 percent water. It develops rapidly if the growing season is cool and moist. Head lettuce forms a tight, compact cabbage head from a dense rosette of leaves. Bibb develops a loose head of broad succulent leaves with superb flavor. Leaf lettuce has loose crispy or curly leaves that develop from a basal growing point. Cos and romaine also develop from a basal growing point, but the leaves are oblong and grow upright.
Since cultivation is difficult with these shallow-rooted plants, a mulch of grass clippings, salt hay, clean straw, or the like, will keep the weeds out and the soil moist and cool. Watering is essential if rainfall is scant. The plants need almost constantly moist ground.
Aphids – Either grow nasturtiums near the lettuce, or if there is a heavy population use rotenone or pyrethrum. Most minor infestations can simply be washed off before the plants are eaten.
Slugs – Place beer in shallow pans at dusk and empty the drowned slugs as they feed and they will “dissolve.”
Most of the blights and troubles have been eliminated through plant breeding and hybrid vigor.