People who’ve grown both leaf and head lettuce usually find that leaf lettuce is preferable. There are reasons for this.
Although both types come in a huge array of colors, forms and sizes, if you want a quick harvest that will give nice results immediately, grow leaf lettuces.
Leaf lettuces can be sown directly into the soil in early spring or grown in containers indoors to give the seedlings a jump start of warmth before heading outside.
Because leaf lettuces come in so many different shapes and colors, they can even be treated as a cool-weather annual and may be used for color in flower beds and containers along with pansies and other ornamental bedding plants.
For growing leaf lettuces as a crop in your vegetable garden, seeds may be sown in rows and then thinned when the plants are visible to allow space for optimal growth.
In some areas where snails and slugs are a problem, protection will be required with the use of slug baits and traps. Depending on the variety of the lettuces grown, lettuces may be harvested in as little as a month.
To ensure multiple harvests of your lettuces, seeds may be sown every two to three weeks. This will give you a continued amount of produce throughout the growing season.
The only difficult time of year to grow leaf lettuces is in the dead heat of the summer. High temperatures are not favorable for growth of lettuces as they prefer cooler temperatures due to the amount of water loss through their leaves.
There are a few varieties available now that can handle higher summer temperatures but it will require some research made by the gardener to find these types.
Most lettuces need ample water and temperatures not exceeding eighty degrees Fahrenheit and a part sun location.
If exposed to full sun, lettuces will be smaller and may taste bitter as well as experience a midday or afternoon wilt.
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Compost is a great amendment to the soil but an all purpose fertilizer will work just as well. A time release fertilizer will also provide great results for leaf growth.
After plants have been established in your garden and have survived slug attacks and have grown well and appear healthy, you can begin to harvest.
The great thing about harvesting leaf lettuces is that you can do it when the plants are still relatively small or after they have grown to a typical lettuce size, depending on the variety.
Leaves harvested when young are considered baby lettuces and are very mild in taste and very colorful.
Lettuces harvested after they have grown more will also be very tasty. If allowed to continue to grow to the seeding or bolting stage of life, lettuces will taste bitter and have a tough texture to the leaves.
It is best to try to eat your lettuces before they even get close to the seed stage of their growth.
For the gardener that has never tried to grow leaf lettuces, do not be afraid to try a variety of different types.
Growing multiple varieties will give you a chance to really find the types that you like as for eating, ease of growing and for its aesthetic value as a beautiful plant in your garden.
The important thing is to always have fun and be open to trying new things.