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Lettuce Plant A Spring Garden

For an early start on your vegetable garden, try planting different kinds of lettuce this spring. On The Saturday Early Show, Gardening expert P. Allen Smith shared some great tips on growing your very own salad.

Some of Allen's favorite lettuce varieties include Buttercrunch, Red Sail and Oakleaf. Buttercrunch does, indeed, have a buttery flavor and velvety texture, and it's among the easiest to grow.

While you can start lettuce from seed, many lettuce varieties are available in cell packs (often called "6-packs") from nurseries and garden centers. These cell packs make planting lettuce quick and easy.

Allen likes to sow seeds successively, every 10 days or so, for a continuous supply until the end of May. By this time, the temperatures are too warm for most lettuces. It is recommended that you make your final plantings two months before the maximum daytime temperatures average 80 degrees.

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One of the nice things about planting lettuce is that it goes great in gardens of any size, including raised beds, and in containers and window boxes.

Caring for lettuce is fairly easy. You want to keep the soil consistently moist. If you see the leaves of the lettuce wilting, then you know you need to water more. Soil with more organic matter will need to be watered less frequently.

Since lettuce is constantly putting out new growth, Allen usually feeds his lettuce with an all-natural liquid fertilizer (such as fish emulsion) about once a week.

A design tip for gardeners is to mix in edible annuals such as pansies and violas along with your vegetables. These plants complement spring vegetables and can become a nice addition to a salad or as a garnish on a plate.

When it comes to selecting containers, Allen suggests that you look at quality and price. It is often better to purchase more expensive grades of terra cotta for large containers; however, for smaller containers, cheap is OK.

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