Growing Lettuce

lactuca sativa : Asteraceae / the daisy family

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec

(Best months for growing Lettuce in Australia - sub-tropical regions)

  • S = Plant undercover in seed trays
  • T = Plant out (transplant) seedlings
  • P = Sow seed
  • Easy to grow. Sow in garden, or start in seed trays and plant out in 4-6 weeks.. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 46°F and 81°F. (Show °C/cm)
  • Space plants: 8 - 12 inches apart
  • Harvest in 8-12 weeks.
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Carrots, Onions, Strawberries, Beets, Brassicas, Radish, Marigold, Borage, Chervil, Florence fennel, leeks.
  • Avoid growing close to: Parsley, Celery
  • Lettuce table-ready
  • Lettuce seedlings

Lettuce offer a range of shapes, sizes and colours but they are all easy to grow.

Choose a variety marked on the seed packet as suitable for the time of year as some do badly in the very hot months.

Try to provide some shade to prevent them 'bolting' to flower and seed in the hottest months.

Sow in rows and use thinnings as small salad greens.

Ideal crop for succession planting.

Lettuce are shallow rooted so water daily in hot or dry weather to prevent bitter flavour. and bolting.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Lettuce

Wash well, spin or shake dry and use in salads and sandwiches

Your comments and tips

18 Jan 08, Jane Falzon (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
Hi some thing is eating my lettuce i have put snail bat down but that has't helped and i dont really want to use spray on them can you help
03 Jan 12, Tim McGrath (Australia - temperate climate)
probably sparrows, bird net may help.
13 Feb 08, Chris (Unknown climate)
If it's snails or slugs eating the lettuce, then culling them by hand on a damp evening can eliminate the problem for a few weeks - enough to let the plants get ahead.
27 Mar 08, Kellie (Unknown climate)
What is the best position for growing lettuce. Ie: full sun, shade etc.
01 Apr 08, Chris (Unknown climate)
Kellie, lettuce grow best in full sun, but cope with partial shade. Just make sure they have plenty of water and never dry out, otherwise they get bitter and tough, and rapidly go to seed.
02 Apr 08, Abbie (Unknown climate)
Beer traps work well with snails and slugs - just cut a panel out of the side of a lidded yoghurt/margerine/sour cream plastic container, and as long as you leave an inch or so lip on the bottom of the cut out panel, you can fill the tub to the hole with beer, and put the lid on to keep the rainwater out. Check it every day or so - it can get quite full of slugs and snails so it will need to be regularly emptied and topped up - slugs and snails don't care what beer you give them - I found collecting the leftover dregs from BBQ's/parties to be the cheapest option, otherwise cheap beer is fine.
03 May 08, Richard Wood (Unknown climate)
Could you please let me know how much water a lettuce needs to stop it going to seed. I have planted several types over the past six months, but they either don,t grow very well or just go to seed.The soil has plenty of fertiliser and the wife turns on the micro sprinkler system each day for around 10 mins.The soil seems damp and i also use sugar cane mulch to stop the soil from drying out, I live in Queensland and the sun is on the lettuce best part of the day at the moment i have cos growing (for about six weeks) and one is just going to seed (feed that to the chooks) and the others look like they might be.The runner beans are doing very well and i have had some great spring onions as well, any help on this would be great.
03 May 08, Don (Unknown climate)
Should we start lettuces off with plastic bottle covers in the winter here in Canberra?
04 May 08, Liz (Unknown climate)
If your lettuce are bolting (going to seed quickly) in Queensland, check how deep the water is penetrating into the soil. It may be drying up too quickly. Have you tried giving the plants some shade in the middle of the day? Also find out which varieties your local plant nursery is selling as seedlings. They may be the varieties that will be successful in your area.
05 May 08, Charlie (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
You can't grow lettuce in May, surely it is too cold...
Showing 1 - 10 of 253 comments

Lettuce grows best in cooler conditions. Varieties of lettuce that are grown in the summer (Great Lakes, etc) tend to be coarser textured and not quite as sweet as varieties grown in cooler weather. Because they are a leaf vegetable and not a 'fruit' vegetable they will tolerate less light. Morning sun up until late morning would be fine. Too much shade will make them weak and spindly. Trust this helps.

- John Mauger

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