Guide to Growing Lettuce and Salad Greens

Salad greens are one of the first crops that I start outdoors. It snowed today, but as soon as the soil is workable, I will be out there, seeds in hand, to get started. As with Seed Starting 101, I have created a permanent page that lists all of the best posts around the subject of growing (and eating) lettuce and salad greens. If you come back looking for it in the future, you will find it over here on the Resources page (link in the top bar).

The photo (above) depicts a winter salad mix that I grew in a big washbasin the last two years. It includes a really pretty burgundy mizuna variety called ‘Red Frills.’

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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11 thoughts on “Guide to Growing Lettuce and Salad Greens

  1. Great resource Gayla! You’re always thinking….bookmarked this for future reference.
    Not to brag or anything, but I’m putting in my spinach and lettuce seeds Thursday afternoon. I’m in KS, so we’re quite variable weather wise, thurs is supposed to be in the 70?s and then I’ll just cover ‘em with a floating row cover for a bit of protection. Can’t wait!
    We’re moving in May, so these little early starts may be all I get to do this year garden-wise :(

  2. Great info! I think I’ll do some lettuces this weekend in some pots, when I get back from Canada Blooms. I hope it’s a decent show this year, last year was smaller, and a bit boring. (more geared towards home-show type vendors)

  3. How handy to have all the salad growing information in one place! In response to the pre-composted greens I found at the grocery store (seriously, do people pay $4 for rotting green goo… no wonder their kids don’t like vegetables!) today I picked up a package of mache seeds. I’ve never grown mache before, but it sounds at least promising for overwintering this coming winter.

    Yesterday my small porch planters thawed out enough for me to remove the kale & cabbage plants. To celebrate the first hint of spring, I sowed some lettuce indoors in the hopes of transplanting it in a few weeks. I usually don’t bother with lettuce transplants, but for some reason this winter I am especially keen for a homegrown salad.

    • Oh, and I should add that I highly recommend making the tea towel storage bag from Grow Great Grub. I have made several in various sizes and modified the instructions by using French seams. I find they are the best for storing lettuce and other vegetables! I also go through far fewer plastic bags, which I like.

    • Thanks for mentioning it Hazel. It’s good to hear how people have fared with book projects. In highschool I worked in the kitchen of a very good restaurant. It was there that I learned about good food, knife skills, and how to cook. One of my jobs was prepping the fresh salad ingredients and making dressings. I learned to cover the greens in a moistened kitchen towel and later adapted it for my home fridge crisper by sewing it into a bag first.

  4. Thanks a bunch for the greens update. I’m in the Chicago area and unfortunately the ground here is still frozen and they’re predicting snow again today. I’m wondering how this late winter is going to push back all of my plants and how long the growing season will be. Probably a good argument for me to start some seeds inside rather than direct sowing once it warms up,as I have before.

    • In my experience this isn’t a late winter… It’s a normal one. The trouble is that we’ve been spoiled over the last few seasons with abnormally warm temps early. Last year was a disaster for some crops because it was too warm too early and then followed by a cold snap. I am starting to observe the usual harbingers of spring come out of dormancy on schedule in a steady way. If this continues we should have a better season — less drought. I would suggest starting seeds underneath protection rather than indoor under lights. I find that direct sown seeds are healthier and more bolt resistant

  5. Great post! I’ve been thinking about doing a vegetable garden in the back of my house. My grandpa used to have the biggest vegetable garden back in IL but I live in FL and am not sure about what grows well in zone 9. Do you know if lettuce would grow well down here?

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