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Guide: Iceberg lettuce from sowing to harvest

I just recently planted this year's batch of iceberg lettuce. I can't wait to see them grow!

Ett vackert huvud av isbergssallat med flikiga blad

Large, delicious iceberg lettuce makes the gardener really happy!


I started growing iceberg lettuce in my garden for the first time in the spring of 2012. I took great care of the plants indoors and then I planted them in a cultivation box. By then, they were protected underneath miniature greenhouses made from plastic crates and thick plastic. I was determined that nothing was going to hurt them. I shared some pictures of the project on my social media and I got a lot of positive comments. It was so fun!

But then something terrible happened when they were just about to root. The plants started looking completely wrecked, one by one. Around one each day in fact, despite all of the protection I provided them with. It turned out that our then two-year-old son Viggo was the culprit. I was very surprised since I knew how much he despised all kinds of leafy greens. But since the day he discovered homegrown iceberg lettuce, he has been all over them.




So tasty

You might think that there are better lettuce varieties out there, but I actually have to say that homegrown iceberg lettuce can hold its own against them. It's crispy and flavorful even though it contains quite a lot of water. Our homegrown iceberg lettuce tastes a lot better than the lettuce we buy from the store, that's for sure. It's the perfect everyday lettuce that the kids just can't get enough of.


Små plantor av isbergssallat redo att planteras om.

You can tell that this is an iceberg lettuce plant by looking at the leaves, they have a distinct look.


Sex små plantor av sallat växer i ett kompostgaller.

These plants have been in their final spot (an old hotbed in the polytunnel) for a few weeks now.


Stora sallatsplantor som växer i ett kompostgaller.

They grow so quickly, it's only been a few weeks!


How I grow my iceberg lettuce

  • Sow around eight seeds in a little pot. Put the sowing in a cool space, this will help the seeds grow faster.
  • Let the plants grow to around 1.5-2 inches (3-4 centimeters) and then carefully pull the plants from the pots.
  • Plant them in individual pots. (If you have a very sheltered spot without any snails, you can put your plants there already when they are small.)
  • Plant them in their final spot when they are around 3-4 inches (8-10 centimeters) tall, put them in a row. Remember to give each plant some space, they grow quite big.
  • Water the lettuce often, it will help it grow and get nice and crispy. Use liquid fertilizer a few times too.
  • Remove the largest leaves that drag on the ground to prevent snails from getting to the plants. Add some slug pellets around the plants too.


Find a sheltered spot

The reason why I only grow a few plants every time is that iceberg lettuce bolts quite easily if you leave it too long. The plants are also easily affected by wind or cold, or too much or too little water.

A sheltered spot (a pallet collar bed with row cover on top, a polytunnel or a greenhouse) is the best option if you want to get nice and healthy heads. You can grow them outside too of course, but it might be a bit more difficult. If you need to grow them outside after all, you should try going for a Batavia variety.


En närbild på ett krispigt isbergshuvud.

Six lettuce heads last a few weeks in our family of six. I sow new lettuce around every other week.


More about lettuce:

Which lettuce should I choose?
Fried lettuce heads
Fresh and crispy lettuce


I recently planted this year's first batch of iceberg lettuce! Twelve plants in two different spots in my polytunnel. It's so fun to watch them grow!
/Sara Bäckmo

21. May 2021