Amongst other early, cool season vegetables, growing an abundance of lettuce early can be a real staple to providing plenty of lettuce well before anything else is planted.
How Early? Well, stating plants for a March transplant is not too early. During March, the key is to look at the long term forecast for a two period for which the weather will not be too cold. Lettuce can handle negative temperatures and light frosts.
With that said, starting the seedlings in late January or early February will allow us to have seedlings prepared for transplanting under decent conditions.
Starting Lettuce From Seed
When we start with seeds, we want the varieties suited to our climate. We can read more about that here.
We can start and grow lettuce in 72-cell flats for 3-5 weeks and transplant them as needed. In addition, if we have too many, they will hold up well in a tiny cell for quite some time after that. Unlike a lot of plants, they are very resilient and grow well with even 3 months in a cell.
Lettuce Growth In Cool Weather
Don’t let this one fool us! Although lettuce is a great cool season plant, it does grow slow in cool weather near freezing and even upwards 55 degrees F(13 degrees Celsius). Once temps are around 59-77 F(15-25 C), it grows fast.
Since it does grow slow in cold weather, we can plant copious amounts of it and harvest small leaves form each plant. Also, with hydroponics, we can use grow spots for other veggies until they are ready to be transplanted. For example, in a vertical pot system, we can plant lettuce in the row for tomatoes, harvest, eat them, then, transplant tomatoes afterwards.
The above methods works well if we want enough to eat during the cold season. Doing it this way, we could eat fresh lettuce throughout April and May, instead of waiting.