Lettuce is the most popular salad vegetable. There are different varieties of lettuce that mature at different times. Some, like iceberg lettuce, are more sensitive to heat and require more care, while loose-leaf types are more tolerant of heat. Leaf lettuce is the most common and most planted type [source: University of Illinois]. Although iceberg lettuce is nice and crunchy, it has little nutritional value [source: ACES]. Other varieties with darker leaves are more flavorful, with moderate amounts of vitamins A and C, as well as some minerals [source: University of Illinois]. Here are some tips for growing lettuce in your garden for a crisp and crunchy addition to your salad or sandwich:
- Plant your lettuce while it's still cool, at least a month before the early summer heat.
- Start planting your lettuce in early spring, at intervals of 10 to 14 days. This will ensure a continuous harvest of lettuce throughout the season. Lettuce can also be planted in late summer, for a fall harvest.
- Plant 10 seeds per foot (30 centimeter) and half an inch (1.25 centimeter) deep. How far apart you plant each row depends on the type of lettuce you're growing [source: University of Illinois].
- Plant your seeds in slightly acidic soil, with a pH of 6.0 or 6.5 [source: Riofrio].
- Plant your lettuce where it will get some shade. It can even be planted in the shade of other vegetables.
- Water your lettuce lightly and frequently to cultivate the tastiest crop [source: University of Illinois].
- Harvest your lettuce when the heads are big enough to eat [source: Riofrio]. All lettuce varieties mature between 50 and 70 days [source: University of Illinois].