Growing your own lettuce offers a range of benefits, including easy access to fresh and flavourful leafy greens, cost-savings, the satisfaction of nurturing your own crop, and the ability to customise varieties to your preferences. It also promotes sustainability and a deeper connection to your food.
We’re sharing advice on how to plant and grow lettuce, from selecting varieties to harvesting. We’re also sharing a tasty salad recipe that will bring that homegrown goodness straight to your table.
Safety tip: Always wear the appropriate safety equipment (safety glasses, gloves, and a mask, for example) and always follow the instructions for the product or equipment. Always wear gloves and a mask when handling potting mix, mulch and compost, and store products out of the reach of children and pets. After applying fertiliser around edible plants, delay harvesting for a few days and rinse well before cooking and eating.
There are many delicious varieties of lettuce to choose from, making it a popular choice for both experienced and beginner gardeners. Iceberg lettuce has a crisp crunch, while butter leaf lettuce is delicate and tender. Romaine has hearty versatility, while cos has a distinctive taste.
As you choose the lettuce you’d like to grow, remember to factor in your personal preferences, the climate of your region, and your available space.
Lettuce is a fan of cool temperatures and partial shade, so pick an area that has four to six hours of sunlight daily. The key to success lies in well-draining soil enriched with organic goodness. Before planting, scout and clear the chosen area of any weeds. As you introduce your lettuce seedlings, adhere to the spacing recommendations indicated on the label.
Consistency is key when it comes to moisture – maintain the soil's dampness with consistent watering, but don’t drown the soil. To gauge watering needs, insert your finger into the soil. If the top 2cm of soil is dry, it’s time to water.
To kickstart the nutrients in your soil, enrich your soil with the goodness of organic compost or a well-balanced fertiliser. This gives your lettuce a head-start by providing the essential nutrients it craves. A layer of mulch, like pea straw, acts like a cosy blanket for your soil. It not only keeps moisture from evaporating too quickly, but it also helps with weed control.
Timing matters when it comes to watering, so opt for mornings or evenings when the sun isn't in full blaze. By minimising water evaporation during these cooler hours, you're ensuring your lettuce gets the hydration it needs and conserving water usage, too.
Pluck lettuce in its youth rather than waiting for it to mature fully. This keeps the flavours sweet and fresh, preventing any unwanted bitterness from creeping in when the lettuce matures. With various lettuce varieties, there's a clever way to ensure an ongoing supply. Rather than harvesting the entire head at once, consider picking a few leaves at a time from certain varieties. This gives you a constant stream of fresh greens and it also reduces any unnecessary waste.
This green and gold goddess salad is incredibly crisp and tasty, and one that makes for a great side, or light lunch. The dressing is creamy and bright, plus you’ll get heaps of vitamins and nutrients from the fresh ingredients, as well as that signature crunch from your homegrown lettuce!
40g smoked almonds (available in supermarkets; regular almonds are fine, too)
20g nutritional yeast
3 garlic cloves
1 bunch basil leaves
30g baby spinach
3 spring onions, sliced
1 jalapeno chilli (optional)
40g olive oil
1 lemon, juice and zest
30g white wine vinegar
1⁄4 cup water (approximately)
Salt to taste
1 head cos lettuce, washed and thinly sliced
1⁄2 avocado, diced
3 baby cucumbers, sliced
1⁄2 cup grilled corn kernels
Salt to taste
Tortilla chips, to serve
1. To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender.
2. Puree, adding water as required to achieve a smooth dressing. Season with salt to taste.
3. For the salad, combine the lettuce leaf, avocado, cucumbers and corn in a bowl.
4. Toss in about half of the dressing, adding an extra pinch of salt if needed. Serve with tortilla chips on the side.
Tomatoes go great with lettuce. Learn how to grow your own tomatoes in this helpful guide.