Lactuca sativa

lettuce, sheryl williams

Thanks to Master Gardener Sheryl Williams for this great picture from her garden! Even if you’re not a vegetable gardener, you should consider trying lettuce, which is one of the easiest to grow. You can even include it among your dormant perennials.

Lettuce germinates quickly from seed or you can buy transplants. Like Sheryl, you can seed ‘cut and come again’ varieties every few weeks through February to snip off leaves for homegrown salads every night. All you need is fertile, well-drained soil in sun, but some shade is fine and even welcome when we get those hot days in late winter and early spring.

Lettuce is a heavy feeder, so give it a drench or foliage feed every few weeks. Going the organic route with seaweed and fish emulsion, to add both macro and micro nutrients, works great. You should also mulch lightly to protect the leaves from direct contact with the soil, where pathogens may be present. Since lettuce leaves are so tender, they can be easily invaded by soil borne fungi and bacteria. You should also provide row cover or other protection if temperatures are expected to drop below freezing.