- As soon as the soil can be worked in the spring, plant one row of seeds. Water and wait two weeks.
- Every two weeks after your first planting, plant another row of lettuce, until you have three or four rows.
- Once your first row is mature enough to pick, pick only the large outer leaves. Don’t pick it all at once and don’t pull up the plants. I use either my kitchen scissors to snip off leaves or I just pinch them off with my finger tips.
- Once you see the lettuce bolting, pull up the whole plant. Remove as many leaves as you can and compost the rest of the plant.
- Try some of the so-called hot-weather varieties of lettuce for summer salads. “Red Sails” is a red-leaf or bronze leaf variety (the red one in the photo above) that tastes great, adds a pop of color to your salads, and is fairly heat-tolerant. Any loose-leaf varieties do a little better in the heat than Romaine or Buttercrunch, which really don’t like heat at all. “Ithaca” is a green-leaf variety that is also slow to bolt.
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Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.