Planting Your Lettuce
Lettuce won’t take up much space in your vegetable garden like tomatoes and cucumbers, so it’s a good crop for smaller gardens. Make your rows at least 10 inches wide, with at least 20 inches between the rows. A 24 inch spacing is recommended for some varieties, so check the seed package for recommended spacing.
As your lettuce grows, you should monitor their growth and thin out your plants periodically. Butterleaf and romaine need about eight inches between each plant, whereas crisp lettuce needs about 12-14 inches.
You can plant most varieties of lettuce directly in the ground from seed. Romaine and butter lettuce grow well from both seeds or from transplants. However, crisphead lettuce is best when grown from transplants. Transplants are a popular pick for head lettuce as head lettuce planted in the spring by seed has a high rate of failure. Head lettuce is risky to plant with seeds as it is hard to time the harvest correctly, making it susceptible to bolting. Thus, it’s worth buying transplants so that it will mature in time.
When planting lettuce seeds, place them fairly shallow in the soil. Cover your seeds with 3/8 – 1/2 inch of soil. After planting, give your seeds a good drink. If you wish, you can add an organic fungicide to the soil to help prevent problems with damping off and other fungal diseases.
In some parts of the U.S., you can plant your seeds or transplants in the garden as early as January. In colder areas, you’ll need to wait until March or so. Young, tender lettuce seedlings are sensitive to freezing, but can typically handle a light freeze.
Plan on growing a fall crop of lettuce around three months before the first serious fall freeze. If you’re going to plant seeds in the summer for a fall crop of lettuce, you can plant seeds directly in the garden without much risk. However, just make sure that you properly water your plants, especially if the weather is warm and dry when you plant the seeds. Check with your extension agent for special planting times in your area.
Lettuce generally requires a lot of water. Keep you plants well irrigated unless you’re getting a decent amount of rain.