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Leaf lettuce is a fast-growing vegetable ideal for year-round container gardening. Seeds sprout quickly, usually within a couple days, making this leafy green a fun veggie to grow with kids. Unlike store-bought lettuce varieties that are short on flavor, lettuce grown in the home garden can include spicy, peppery and savory varieties that make unique salad additions.
Lettuce seeds are small and can be difficult to handle, so a pair of tweezers can be a helpful tool for sowing the seeds. Plant seeds in peat pots or small containers filled with a mixture of compost and peat. Barely cover seeds and keep them evenly moist for best results. Seedlings will appear in as few as 3 days. Thin to about 6 inches apart when the seedlings are a few inches tall.
You can begin to harvest leaf lettuce as soon as the leaves are a reasonable size to eat. Most varieties grow to maturity in 45 to 50 days. Like most garden vegetables, lettuce likes to feel needed, and regular harvest will encourage the plant to produce more leaves. Harvest outer leaves first, leaving the center head intact so the plant keeps growing. Harvest lettuce in the morning and chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat.
Try growing popular leaf lettuce varieties, such as Red Salad Bowl or Black Seeded Simpson. For a diverse leaf lettuce sample, purchase seed packets for mesclun mix or spring mix, as these seed blends include seeds for several leaf lettuce types.