"Lettuce" Get Growing: Tower Garden Tips for Lettuce
Whether it’s on a sandwich or in a salad, the refreshing crunch of lettuce is unmistakable. And there’s nothing quite like walking over to your Tower Garden and harvesting a crisp leaf to munch on—which is one reason we ship gourmet lettuce seeds with every Tower Garden.
We also include lettuce because it’s:
- Fast-growing, and can be ready to harvest in as little as 3 weeks.
- One of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, offering vitamins A, K and other nutrients.
- Easy to grow—a perfect choice for new gardeners.
No wonder it’s a popular crop among Tower Gardeners!
If you want fresh lettuce every day for salads or other dishes, we suggest growing approximately 2-3 heads of lettuce per person.
Tower Tip: Get more recommendations on gardening planning in our guide.
Here are our tips for growing lettuce with Tower Garden.
Best Growing Conditions for Lettuce
Of the many varieties of leaf and head lettuce, most prefer full sun and temperatures between 45–80˚, making lettuce a good cool season crop. Lettuce can withstand light frosts. But in hot weather, it will easily bolt (i.e., quickly grow vertically, flower and produce seeds)—and this process typically makes lettuce bitter. So if you grow lettuce in warmer conditions, plant it in partial shade or grow heat-tolerant varieties, like these:
Keep in mind, all varieties of lettuce grow very well indoors with grow lights.
Tower Tip: To learn when you should grow lettuce in your area, try this planting scheduler.
Starting Lettuce Seeds
For leaf lettuces, plant 2–4 seeds per rock wool cube. And for head lettuces, plant only 1 seed per cube. Lettuce seeds usually germinate within 1–2 weeks. And seedlings should be ready to transplant to your Tower Garden 10–14 days after sprouting, or whenever they have at least 2–3 leaves and a visible root structure. When transplanting, keep in mind that lettuce is a good crop to plant near the top of your Tower Garden.
Tower Tip: For step-by-step instructions on starting seeds and transplanting seedlings, reference page 7 of the Tower Garden Growing Guide (PDF).
Common Lettuce Pests and Disease
Growing lettuce with Tower Garden decreases the chance of pests and plant diseases. But just in case, here are some potential problems:
- Aphids are small insects that typically feed on young plant growth, causing it to appear puckered or deformed.
- Cabbage loopers are green caterpillars that feed on the underside of lower leaves and in the center of the head of lettuce.
- Cucumber beetles are yellow-orange beetles with black markings that sometimes feed on lettuce seedlings. Take care not to confuse these with ladybugs.
- Botrytis, a gray-brown fuzzy growth, thrives in cool environments and can appear on plant debris that has fallen from the plant.
- Downy mildew looks like fine white cotton or frosting and often infects lower plant leaves first. It can spread rapidly and kill plants in cool conditions.
- Powdery mildew forms a white-gray powdery growth, usually on the upper surfaces of leaves. You’re most likely to see this common disease in late summer.
How to Harvest Lettuce
Since they grow so quickly, lettuces will be ready to harvest within a few weeks after planting. You can harvest lettuce in 2 ways:
Whole head. Remove the entire plant and net pot from your Tower Garden, or cut all the leaves off at the base of the plant. If you choose this method, be sure to have replacement seedlings ready.
Individual leaf. This technique keeps the plant alive and encourages continued production. When there are plenty of mature leaves present:
- Harvest only a few leaves at a time, from the bottom of the plant upward.
- Allow 2–3 leaves to remain so the plant may keep growing.
- Repeat every 2–3 days until the plant bolts, or begins flowering.
- After bolting, replace the plant with a fresh seedling.
For more help with harvesting, watch this instructional video:
You’ll want to eat lettuce within a few days of harvesting. Need ideas for how to use it?
Browse recipes shared by other Tower Gardeners »
More Tips for Growing Lettuce
If you’re hungry for more lettuce growing advice, we have a comprehensive guide available in the Resource Center.
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