As the warm summer days came to an end, I found myself wishing I could garden in the colder temperatures. Luckily for me, there are lots of veggies that are well-suited for fall gardening! While scouring seed company inventories of cool weather crops, my eyes landed on lettuce. “Lettuce? I guess I eat a lot of lettuce, so this one might be a good one to grow… but it just seems like it will be so boring….” I thought to myself. Little did I know that lettuce would become my favorite cool weather crop to grow!
A little bit of know
Did you know that lettuce was originally cultivated from weeds and has been around for over 4500 years? Wow, that’s a long time! Lettuce is one of the world’s most popular fresh vegetables, second only to potatoes. There are four main kinds of lettuce, including looseleaf, which doesn’t form heads, butterhead-a kind with loose heads, crisphead–a cabbage-y lettuce, and the ever-popular romaine.
Lettuce is considered a cool weather crop. Typically, this lettuce takes between 3-10 days to germinate, and requires 65 days until the first harvest, although I harvested a few huge heads a couple weeks earlier.
You should space the seeds about 6 inches apart. For more information, head over to the Gardening Spreadsheet page!
From seedling to salad
This year, I grew two types of lettuce. The specific variety I’ll be talking about today is EZ Serve Lettuce. This is a type of romaine lettuce.
This lettuce grew like a champ. Here are the lettuce about 4 days after germination. I planted these Labor Day weekend in zone 6a.
Watching these little guys grow was a lot more exciting than you’d think watching lettuce growing would be. After the seedlings grew a few more leaves on them, they looked like miniature mature lettuce heads! In about two months time, they looked like this:
Get your slimy self off my lettuce leaves!
Slugs were my biggest, and only, problem while growing this lettuce. You could tell where slugs had been chomping away in the night by the large holes in the leaves.
However, in trying to shield my lettuce from the cold, I figured out a protip to keep those shell-less snails from eating my lettuce–keep the lettuce in a greenhouse.
The greenhouse I picked up was very inexpensive and has actually been a great asset to my little garden. By keeping my plants in the greenhouse overnight, I was able to cut down on the amount of slug damage to my lettuce, as well as keep them from freezing in the frosty air at night.
All in all, the ease with which this lettuce has grown and the abundant produce it produces has made this lettuce my favorite cool weather crop to grow!
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