How to Grow Lettuce in Raised Beds
Why not scatter some lettuce on your raised beds? The seeds grow nicely in spring when the weather is still relatively cool. I grow lettuce in raised beds at home and it works really well!
I didn't really have time to make a plan for my raised beds. But sometimes, I think that having no plan is actually the way to go. Right now, I have eight raised areas. I'm so far growing garlic, winter-sown tomatoes, spinach, summer carrots, summer potatoes and bok choy here. It's time for something new though. I thought that a few lettuce varieties might do well here. Today's article is simply about how to grow lettuce in raised bed!
You can grow lettuce in raised beds in a few different ways. Either by planting lettuce that you transplanted from a pot, or direct-sow right in the raised bed. I'm going to show you how to do the latter today!
I generally think it's best to grow one type of vegetable in each raised bed. It's more straight forward and you usually get a large crop too. The only downside is that your beds might look a little uninteresting. I think that it's just a lot more fun to do companion planting with many different types of vegetables. But for now, I'm going with the safe route. One type of vegetable per bed, that is!
Early spring is the perfect time to sow lettuce outdoors, at least here in zone 3. You can start in late winter, or do it as soon as the soil is free from snow. The lettuce seeds actually do just fine in cold soil. It doesn't even matter if the soil were to freeze. The seeds will survive! You should also know that lettuce is one of the first vegetables that germinate in spring. The lettuce seeds actually only need a few degrees above freezing in order to germinate and cold soil is actually a plus. If the temperature is too high though, the seeds might not germinate at all.
I filled my raised bed with manure, plant parts and soil. This is the perfect mix! I decided to make the sowing process a little easier by putting a few buckets of soil on top. If you don't have soil at home, you can just get a bag from your local garden center.
I made eight little lines in my raised bed and put the seeds an inch or so apart. These are the varieties I went for, from the left:
'Sanguine Ameliore'- loose head, light inner leaves with red spots
'Catelaine' - low-growing variety with an open head and large leaves
'Garnet Rose' - bright red lettuce
'Murielle' - loose head with exceptionally mild and tasty leaves
'Laibacher Eis' - green Batavia lettuce, similar to iceberg lettuce
'Anuenue' - small green Batavia, similar to iceberg lettuce
'Great Lakes 118' - beautiful iceberg lettuce, large head
'Totana' - large Romaine lettuce, up to 12 inches (around 30 cm) tall
As you might know, you should actually put lettuce heads a bit further apart than just an inch or so. But I'm going to take care of it later. I plan on harvesting some of the small plants and in doing so, thin the row a little so that there's enough space for the remaining plants. I actually prefer this method to sowing the seeds a bit further apart. Some seeds might not germinate at all, and then I would have to deal with plenty of holes in the rows.
Lettuce seeds can very easily lose their viability if you store them somewhere warm for a long while. So, make sure to actually sow your seeds instead of just stocking up on them. You can broadcast-sow them in your beds, raised beds or in large pots or troughs. After a few weeks, it's time to harvest your own little baby leaves!
Protect your lettuce
Since I decided to be extra careful with this sowing, I actually put a row cover on top of the raised bed. The row cover helps stabilize the temperature and keeps the plants away from hard winds, rain and curious cats. It's very handy.
By the way, getting enough water is especially important when you grow lettuce. It doesn't grow properly, bolts easily and even the flavor is affected when you don't give it enough water. The lettuce can get very bitter.
I'm harvesting quite a lot of lettuce and other leaves in my polytunnel right now. I really enjoy growing my vegetables in several different spots, because then I always have something to harvest. It's so fun!
More spring content
I have plenty of articles about growing leafy greens (and lots of other vegetables too) here on the blog, so be sure to check it out, by using the search option on the main page. Good luck!