Growing Hyperguide: Salad Greens & Lettuce

Lettuce! I sometimes enjoy it!

In 2021, I planted 52 heads of lettuce and ate exactly three of them. I probably did it because I recently set up drip irrigation and I was excited to have one of those long, thick, lush rows of leaf lettuce seen on social media. Of course, while waiting for the rows to fill out, some started to bolt while others were just getting started. I became despondent and said I would let it bolt to save seed. I didn’t do that, either. Now I plant 10 heads of lettuce and that is more than enough for our consumption. Growing salad greens is a rewarding experience, especially with all the color and variety available. See which salad greens varieties Lunaberry Farms is growing this year!

Lesson learned: Don’t overdo it. Quality over quantity.

How was I able to grow so many? Growing salad greens is almost effortless, and the right robust variety will make you feel like you’re a gardening pro. They have shallow roots, so they don’t need much room to thrive and you can squeeze in a pot of lettuce in almost any shady spot outside. You can start harvesting in as little as 4 weeks, and late Winter frost makes the leaves sweeter and crisper.

Salad greens are much more than just lettuce and include any tender leaf that you would eat raw on its own, or with similar leaves, in a large serving. Their flavors range from mild to peppery to spicy like arugula, their texture from crunchy kale to soft butterhead. Their color is predominantly green, though several red, purple, blanched, and patterned “greens” like the Flashy Trout’s Back give you endless combos to make a very impactful visual statement. With lettuce!

growing salad greens in rows with a black cat

Luna is terribly unimpressed with lettuce

Lettuce, Specified

Latin name: Lactuca sativa
Hardiness Zone: None/Annual
Days to Germination: 3-10
Days to Maturity: 30-60
Seeding Depth: 1/4”
Plant Spacing: 9-12”
Plant Height: 6-12”
Row Spacing: 12-15”
Growing Habit: Leafy mound
Soil Preference: Evenly moist, organically rich, well-drained
Temperature Preference: 60-70 °F
Light Preference: Full sun in colder temps, partial sun in the Fall

How to Sow & Grow Lettuce and Salad Greens

Lettuce is a cool weather crop performing just as vigorously when sown directly as when transplanted. Begin indoors 4-6 weeks before final spring frost or about 6-8 weeks before the first autumn frost. Sow 2-3 seeds 1/4” deep per cell and 2-3” apart in organically composted, well-drained soil. Seeds germinate in 3-10 days, transplanting or thinning back to 1 plant every 9-12” as leafy heads establish. Thrives in moist soils supplemented with nitrogen-rich fertilizer and can be sown every two weeks for successive, season-long harvests.

When to Harvest Lettuce

Harvest lettuce once the leaves have reached 3-6” long. Be sure to pick the leaves once they’re grown large enough, but before they reach maturity. Harvesting mature lettuce will result in bitter-tasting plants. Pick the outer leaves of the lettuce plant so the smaller leaves in the center will continue to establish. Other varieties of lettuce such as butterhead or romaine, can also be harvested by digging up the entire plant or cutting them while leaving an inch of the stem behind. You can store harvested lettuce in a plastic bag in the fridge for 7-10 days. I hope you give growing salad greens a try!

Favorite varieties

Saving Lettuce Seeds

Coming soon!