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How to Grow Lettuce the EASY Way

by | Jul 16, 2022 | Grow, Lettuce, Vegetable Gardening

Learning how to grow lettuce or other greens in the garden can seem difficult. Or perhaps you don’t like the dirty leaves that need to be washed before consuming. With this easy trick, we grow lettuce all season long and enjoy garden-to-table greens with very little effort.

A woman in the garden cutting lettuce.

Why I Love This Method

I love growing my own salad and cooking greens, as we’ve discussed in another blog post how we grow greens year-round. However, one of the things I was frustrated with when growing lettuce and other greens was how long it would take to clean them once they got into the kitchen.

That is until I discovered this great method of growing greens that’s very easy and straightforward and it keeps the greens extremely clean so they’re easy to use in the kitchen.

We succession plant our lettuce and other cooking greens to have a continual harvest all season long.

The beauty of planting so densely is it eliminates the need for weeding! Check out our other strategies for reducing weeds in the garden here, and learn more about Back to Eden Gardening here.

Growing Lettuce & Other Greens

Lettuce and other greens are great options for growing densely and harvesting when young. You also don’t need much garden space to grow a lot of food, a simple square foot will do.

Some of our favorite varieties to grow are upright or loose leaf lettuce mixes, like the Dragon Stir-Fry Mix from Baker Creek Seeds, cilantro (as I’m demonstrating in this video), and any other quick-growing non-head-forming greens such as kale and mustards.

Baby greens in a pile.

How Long Does It Take to Grow Lettuce

Because we’re planting these crops densely and not letting them grow to full maturity before harvest, they don’t take long at all before you’re ready to harvest.

The beauty of this is that these vegetables tend to be heartier and can germinate in cooler temperatures, so they’re some of the first crops to be coming in from our garden.

You’ll need to look at your seed packet to know exactly how long it will take before your first harvest. It’s safe to subtract a few weeks off of that time because you’ll be harvesting them young and not letting them grow to full maturity.

Will Lettuce Regrow After Cutting

Lettuce and other greens, when harvested young, will grow back at least one other time. Some varieties may grow back multiple times, but at some point they will stop growing which is why we like to succession plant.

It does take some experimenting with your family size, how often you enjoy eating greens, and how many seeds to plant each week until you figure out the right amount for you.

For our family of 12, we plant a five-foot section every week. We eat a lot of salads and greens!

Baby lettuce growing in a garden.

Does Lettuce Need Full Sun

Lettuce and greens will grow fastest when planted in full sun. However, they’re among the few vegetables that do tolerate some shade.

Because we’re not letting the lettuce or greens get too big, they’ll do best with a good bit of sunlight and, if they are shaded, make sure it’s in the afternoon.

We have successfully grown lettuce this way in our greenhouse as well as a Greenstalk Vertical Garden on our deck. If you want to start gardening, this is a fantastic way to get started.

A man watering the garden with a watering can.

Watering Needs of Lettuce

Because lettuce doesn’t need to grow deep roots, especially when harvesting the leaves young as with this method, you don’t need to water deeply.

In fact, lettuce and other greens tend to do better with frequent, lighter, consistent watering to encourage leaf growth over rooting. The goal is to keep the soil moist and not to let it dry out as lettuce withers quickly, especially in the heat of the day.

However, it’s important to note that watering too often can result in stunted growth, root rot, and other diseases. Learn more about watering strategies in the garden here.

Greens being cut into a basket.

How Do You Pick Leaf Lettuce So It Keeps Growing

With the dense planting method for growing lettuce and other greens, it’s really easiest to harvest them with a pair of scissors.

I like to harvest in rows where I cut a straight line of greens, then leave a small row, then harvest again. This allows some of the smaller leaves to get access to more sunlight and grow a bit more before I harvest that row.

The rows that have been cut will then begin to grow at least one more time and I can repeat this process a week or two later.

A woman preparing a garden bed with a rake.

How to Grow Lettuce the Easy Way

Before the season begins, I like to mark out my rows where I’ll be succession planting my lettuce and greens. I do this by planting onions between each section so I can easily see where the next section should start and end (learn how to grow onions from seed here).

Here are the basic steps for how to grow lettuce the easy way:

  1. Prepare your garden bed by removing any large rocks or debris and smoothing over the surface a few times with a rake.
  2. Take a yardstick and press gently into the soil, marking out rows a few inches apart.
  3. Sprinkle seeds throughout the lines, trying not to let them clump too much. You won’t need to come back and thin these, so you want to plant somewhat densely.
  4. Lightly cover the seeds back up with the soil. The general rule of thumb is to cover seeds with soil twice as deep as the seed is wide.
  5. Give them a good watering and keep them moist until they’ve germinated. Then continue watering as described above.

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