Lettuce is a cool-weather crop that is fairly cold tolerant. However, the thin, fragile nature of the leaves makes them susceptible to freezes and drought. Lettuce is best grown as a spring or fall crop.
When to Plant:
Sow lettuce seed in mid-March or set plants in early April. Sow seeds for a fall crop in mid to late August for leaf or Bibb types, or in late July to early August for head or romaine types. Lettuce grown in hot weather will have a strong, bitter flavor. You may improve the flavor by storing lettuce in a plastic bag in a refrigerator for several days.
Spacing:Sow seeds thinly 1/4 inch deep and water consistently until the lettuce emerges. Thin to a plant every 6-8 inches, or set transplants at this spacing. Rows may be as close as 15 inches apart.
Care:Lettuce is shallow rooted, and the root system is fairly spindly. Therefore, it will require careful cultivation so as not to damage roots. Regular watering and fertilizing are necessary. Overwatering in heavy soils can cause root or head rots.
Harvest:Cut the heads of heading types slightly above ground level and remove damaged, dirty, or excess leaves. Select full-sized leaves of leaf lettuce individually so that the plant will continue to produce. Store lettuce in a plastic bag in a refrigerator immediately after harvest, because it will become limp quickly.