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Grow Lettuce at Home: My Guide

Lettuce is a common vegetable on the dinner table, and many people also grow it at home. Did you know that you can save quite a bit of money by growing lettuce instead of buying it? Read my guide and learn how to grow lettuce here!


Right now, I'm harvesting magically lovely lettuce in my garden. Large, hearty heads, each weighing around 2 pounds (almost a kilo). Once the outer leaves are removed, just over half of that remains. Lettuce is a crucial crop in my garden since I can add it to more or less every single meal. You can always munch on some lettuce. Quick, green food. Do you want to grow lettuce in your garden too?


Read more: Growing lettuce from seed in pots


The lettuce pictured in this post is a type called cos lettuce, also known as romaine lettuce. There are both large and small varieties of cos lettuce, and I enjoy growing them all in my Swedish kitchen garden. This variety is called 'Parris Island Cos'. A single head of this lettuce can weigh more than 6 pounds (up to 3 kilos)! The lettuce I'm harvesting now in early summer was sown in winter and the plants have been growing closely ever since. They haven't been able to spread out very much, which is why these heads aren't as large as they could be. But, lettuce weighing more than 2 lbs (including the outer leaves) is not too shabby either!


Grow lettuce at home and save money

I grow lettuce in a raised bed outdoors and I water it every day.


Grow lettuce in summer

Lettuce usually thrives when it can germinate in colder temperatures. So, you might have a challenge in scorching hot summer weather. If you often struggle with your lettuce sowings, you can try this method:

- Pre-cultivate lettuce in small pots or trays
- Use potting soil and fill a shallow tray with an inch (a few centimeters) of soil
- Water so the soil becomes moist
- Sprinkle 10-20 seeds over the surface
- Cover with just a little soil
- Place the tray outdoors in the shade, in a protected spot
- Cover the sowing to prevent it from drying out
- Once the seeds have germinated, remove the cover
- Move the tray to a brighter and warmer spot

So, let the seeds germinate where it is cool. It may even need to be indoors during the summer. I know that some people even start their lettuce in the refrigerator.

The plants can continue growing in the tray where they were sown and then be transplanted directly into the garden, outdoors or in a greenhouse, when it is cooler.


Read more: Iceberg lettuce from sowing to harvest


What to avoid

Since lettuce sometimes refuses to germinate if the soil is too warm, you should avoid direct sowing it. Of course, the information on the seed packet often says it's fine to direct sow, but the results are usually better if you pre-cultivate your lettuce when it's hot outside. Grow the plants in small pots and then transplant them to the garden once they are large enough.

I also prefer pre-cultivating lettuce in troughs and pots because it's easier to take care of the sowing this way. The little plants won't need to compete against weeds and can grow undisturbed. And as an added plus, the slugs won't get to the seedlings either.


Grow lettuce at home

The outer leaves are still attached. These leaves can have a bitter flavor and I often remove them when I harvest my lettuce.

Delicious, tender leaves are hiding behind the outer layer.

My favorite lettuce varieties

You've been asking for tips on lettuce varieties. There are so many to choose from! I can't possibly recommend all the varieties I think are worth growing, but here are a few of my favorites:

- 'Little Gem' – a small cos lettuce where each plant makes a perfect portion, also delicious in a stir-fry
- 'Murielle' – a loosely bound summer lettuce with a very lovely flavor
- 'Buttercrunch' – a loosely bound summer lettuce that grows large in warm weather without bolting
- 'Cavendish' – a red leaf lettuce with beautiful leaves and a great taste, also suitable for indoor growing
- 'Jericho' – a tall, robust cos lettuce with very crispy leaves
- 'Frillice' – an open iceberg lettuce with frilly leaves, very tasty


Read more: Fried lettuce heads


Grow lettuce and save money

Lettuce is one of many crops that can save you some money by growing it yourself. A calculation I did with my family caught my readers' attention on Instagram, and I was encouraged to share it here as well.

The lettuce heads we're harvesting now weigh at least 1 lbs (500 grams and up). My son guessed that a head that size would cost around 5-6 dollars (around 50-60 Swedish crowns) in the grocery store. I guessed 3 dollars (around 30 crowns). When we checked the price of Swedish-grown romaine lettuce in the online store, it was around 12 dollars per lbs (120 crowns per kilo), which makes my freshly harvested lettuce head worth around 6 dollars or 60 Swedish crowns. Crazy!

Lettuce seeds are among the absolute cheapest vegetable seeds you can find. The price per packet is often low, and each seed packet contains many seeds.


Read more: Self-sufficiency - growing a lot of vegetables


The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that we eat a tleast 400 grams (around 0.9 lbs) of vegetables and fruits per person and day. If we assume that a mix of different greens from the store costs on average 6 dollars per lbs, the total cost for my entire family of six would amount to just about 550 dollars (around 5500 Swedish crowns) a month.

Over the years that I've been gardening, our family has become accustomed to eating a lot of vegetables, both the children and adults. We consume far more than the average amount of vegetables/fruits per day since we can harvest and eat directly from the garden. It's clear that we never, ever, ever could have afforded to eat such good, chemical-free, healthy, and delicious food if we had to buy the same amount from the store. We would likely have had to reduce our vegetable consumption by a lot.

The segment above is not meant to criticize food prices in general; some interpret it that way. I'm the first to applaud that good, quality food costs money, so that farmers  can afford to run their businesses properly and adhere to any legislation that protects the environment and follows labor regulations for employees.


Read more: How to grow lettuce in raised beds


Grow lettuce.

I grow lettuce in my garden every year. Since I use it so often in my cooking, I need to remember to keep sowing new seeds so that we always have new heads to harvest.


More: Follow me on YouTube here


It doesn't take much to grow lettuce at home, but you need to find a method that works for you and your garden. Summer is a great time to get started, since the lettuce grows well this time of year. Try to sow several times each season so that you always have fresh lettuce available.

Good luck!
/Sara at Skillnaden's

20. June 2024