Growing Lettuce Indoors

Can I grow Lettuce, from seed to harvest, indoors? Absolutely. 

Lettuce scored an “A+” on our “indoor-garden feasibility” scale. Lettuce was, overall, extremely easy to grow in the indoor garden and took up very little space. Here is the Tub to Table guide to growing Lettuce, from seed to harvest, indoors. 

  • Botanical name – Lactuca sativa
  • Sun exposure – Part sun
  • Soil type and pH – loamy,  slightly acidic to neutral
  • Light period* – 12 hours
  • Water – Keep soil moist but not wet
  • Weeks to maturity – About 5-8
  • Health benefits –  Lettuce is a great source of Vitamin A and K, as well as iron and folate.
  • Favorite varieties – There are many types of lettuce including hearting and loose leaf varieties. Here are my favorite varieties to grow indoors:
  1. Iceberg –  Ferry and Morse
    1. Bibb – Ferry and Morse
    1. Arugula – Rocket Burpee
    2. Mustard greens – Red Giant Johnny’s
    3. Romaine – Dragoon
    4. Salanova – Exclusive to Johnny’s

Lettuce is king in my garden. The easiest crop to grow and the most useful, hands down, has been lettuce. It is a true work-horse. It doesn’t require deep soil, the roots stay small and shallow, so you can tuck it in next to deeper crops like beets or carrots. It is ok with cooler temperatures but has proved to thrive in my warm garden. It doesn’t require that much sun, so you could even plant it in the shade of a larger vegetable such as a tomoto.  You can really get away with any brand of lettuce seeds, whether they’re from the local garden store or supermarket and get seeds to germinate reliably resulting in a nice lettuce crop a short few weeks later.  The days to harvest is typically quoted as being about 40 -50 days after sowing. But, you can harvest them earlier at any point and  either just take the outer leaves and continue to allow the head to grow, or harvest it early while it is small and tender. I generally sow some lettuce seeds every time I plant seeds at all.

Trouble shooting.  If you aren’t getting a high percentage to germinate, simply scatter the seeds over the top of your seed starting medium. Then cover in a thin coat of vermiculite. There is no need to plant the seeds any deeper than that. 

 

Harvest: When ready , you could pick the outer leaves and allow the rest of the head  to  grow. Or, lop off the whole head and serve. You don’t get to say that sentence too often in life. The second option is much less labor intensive and you’ll have another row of seedlings ready to take it’s place anyway.

Another great thing about growing your own lettuce vs buying it at the store is it’s “shelf-life”.  When you buy lettuce at the store, the clock starts ticking the second you bring it home for how long it will remain crispy and delicions in your refrigerator. But having the salad happily growing in your own garden, you can “hold it” much longer. You can delay harvesting until you need it, right up until it bolts. And then, it’s time to pick the dang thing. 

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A nice bowl of freshly harvested romaine leaves.  See the section on microgreens for a nice salad recipe in combination with microgreens.

 

Verdict – A+. Lettuce absolutely thrives in the indoor garden. All varieties have been quick and easy.

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