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Lettuce From Seed

A Beginners Guide: How To Grow Lettuce From Seed

by Helen
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Lettuce: Sow and Grow Guide - Growing Lettuce From Seed

Since lettuce is a staple in our home, we grow it from seed.  Summer is built on a bowl of lettuce greens for a tasty salad; no sandwich should be without that refreshing crunch.  With some know-how, you can have a bunch of lettuce at your fingertips.  If you are wondering how to grow lettuce from seed, we've got some ideas for you!

Organic gardening is a popular way to grow fresh, healthy produce, including lettuce.  Lettuce is an excellent choice for organic gardeners because it is easy to grow and requires minimal care.  Choose a sunny location with well-draining soil to start an organic lettuce garden.  You can use compost or organic fertilizer to improve soil fertility.  When planting lettuce, space the plants properly and keep the soil moist. 

In addition to lettuce, you can also grow other organic vegetables and herbs to create a bountiful and nutritious harvest.  Enjoy your homegrown, organic food!

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5 Types of Lettuce You Can Easily Grow From Seed

First, there are five primary types of lettuce:

  • BUTTERHEAD, also known as Boston or Bibb lettuce, is soft and slightly crumpled with its light green leaves forming in a loose head and often has a creamy yellow core.
  • RISPHEAD, called iceberg or head lettuce, leaves are crisp and tightly wrapped into a dense crown.
  • LEAF, heads are open rather than it being tight. Its leaves can vary in color, green, red, or green with red tips, and are soft with a crisp rib.
  • ROMAINE (COS) is an upright. It also varies in color: medium to dark green, red, green, and red leaves with broad, stiff ribs and lighter green, with a crisp heart.
  • SUMMER CRISP, also called Batavia or French Crisp, has crisp and sweet, open, loose-leaf plants that grow into a thicker bunch or a head.
Growing Lettuce From Seed

General Sowing

When to sow lettuce you grow from seed outside: We recommend – 2 to 4 weeks before your average last frost date and when the soil temperature is at least 40°F, but ideally 60°-70°F. For successive sowings – every 3 weeks up to 4 to 6 weeks before the average first fall frost date for head lettuce. Milder Climates: Sow in seeds in the fall and winter for cool-season harvests.

When to start lettuce inside: You can safely begin 4 to 6 weeks before your average last frost date and in the summer when the soil temperatures are too hot (above 80°F) to germinate your lettuce seed.

Special germination instructions: Soil temperatures over 80°F significantly decrease the seed's germination rate. While in hot summer zones, start successions indoors; if outdoors, always use a shade cloth to keep the soil cooler.

How many lettuce heads do I plant?

It depends on how many heads of lettuce you usually go through in a week. Sow about 3 times so much that you will have lettuce between successions in the garden to enjoy.

Indoor Sowing: Growing Lettuce From Seed

If you're wondering how to grow lettuce from seed indoors.  Use a lightweight seed starting potting mix that is sterile and lighter than the potting mix, and sow seeds about 1/8″ deep on the surface.  Start by sowing 3 seeds per pot, thin them out, leaving the most vigorous plant once the eaves appear.  So you don't disturb the other plants, clip extra plants at the soil level using garden scissors instead of pulling them and having garden supplies on hand.  The strongest plant might not be the tallest.  Looking for thick, strong stems and deep colors would be best.  By thinning your plants early, you minimize the negative impact of overcrowding, like stretching for light.

Use Of Containers For Growing Lettuce From Seed

Are you thinking about growing lettuce from seed?  Start with clean, sanitized containers with good drainage.  You can also use raised garden beds.  Lettuce only needs a little root space between sowing and transplanting.  1½” recycled paper pots and traditional 4- or 6-cell packs work well.

Just like you should prune strawberry plants, you should prune lettuce by removing the outer leaves as they mature and begin to yellow. This will help promote the growth of new leaves and ensure that your lettuce stays healthy and tasty. When pruning, make sure to use clean, sharp scissors or garden shears to avoid damaging the remaining leaves.

Did you know frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy, if not healthier, for you than fresh ones?  It's because frozen produce is picked at peak ripeness and quickly frozen, which helps to lock in nutrients.  Additionally, frozen produce can be more convenient and cost-effective than fresh, especially when certain fruits and vegetables are out of season.  So, next time you shop for groceries, take notice of the frozen section!  What's best is that you can cook frozen vegetables without getting soggy.
Lettuce Growing In Conainer

Growing Lettuce From Seed Transplanting: Outdoor Sowing

Sowing or transplanting preparation and spacing

When you grow lettuce from seed, once your seedlings are about 4 weeks old and acclimated by hardening off, it's time to transplant them into the garden. Follow the recommended spacing noted on your seed packet. Fertilizing with kelp or seaweed beforehand may help seedlings with transplant stress, after transplanting water seedlings thoroughly and for several days afterward. Lettuce has shallow roots, making it more prone to drying out when its roots grow into the new soil. At our home, we garden sustainably using eco friendly gardening techniques.


Till shallowly because lettuce roots are shallow and can be harmed easily.


Apply a balanced fertilizer if additional nutrients are needed by applying – equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium or nitrogen-rich, liquid fertilizer regularly after plants have mature leaves.


Maintain soil moist but not soggy; drying stress may cause bitterness and bolting.

Special Care


Mulching around the plants keeps the soil much more evenly moist and the roots cooler, which helps prevent bolting.  We prefer straw for mulching.


Harvest or rip in the morning by cutting your lettuce off at ground level. If you desire regrowth, cut the leaves higher, at 2″. If you prefer a continual supply, outer, you can harvest individual leaves at any stage of maturity but leave at least half of the plant behind for regrowth. Rinse if needed in cool water, dry, and store in a sealed container, vegetable container in the refrigerator's vegetable drawer for up to 2 weeks. Still, if you use a vegetable container, it will last much longer.

Common Pest and Diseases

First, when you grow lettuce from seed, pests like slugs feed primarily on tender lettuce plant tissue. They make large holes in foliage, stems, and bulbs, potentially destroying seedlings. They are found abundantly and are the most damaging during wet weather and in regions with high rainfall. To encourage the numerous natural predators of slugs like ground beetles, fireflies, birds, garter snakes, toads, and lizards, maintain constant walkways of clover, sod, or stone mulches. 

Use items like copper flashing as edging for your garden beds. Protect seedlings by spreading wide bands of wood ashes, cinder, or food-grade diatomaceous earth along rows, but renew frequently. You can also trap slugs under pots, boards, or grapefruit rinds; collect and destroy them every morning. Alternatively, you can make simple traps by burying a cup or can with the lip flush to the soil surface; fill it with beer or other fermenting liquids.

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