This week’s 5 Minute Friday Gardening Tip Video is all about starting lettuce seeds indoors every year. I don’t start all of my lettuce seeds indoors but I do grow quite a bit indoors for a few reasons.
This week on our 5 Minute Friday Gardening Tip video I am talking about why I think you should be starting lettuce seeds indoors. I don’t start all my lettuce indoors but I do grow quite a bit each year. Check out the video below:
Starting Lettuce Seeds Indoors
Turns out starting lettuce seeds indoors can be a bit of a controversial topic in gardening. I start dozens of lettuce seedlings indoors every year for a few different reasons, but some people think I’m crazy for doing it. Their argument is that lettuce planted directly into the garden does really well so why waste the space starting lettuce seeds indoors. And I agree.
Lettuce seeds planted directly into your garden soil will germinate easily and grow really well! We grow 60 or more lettuce plants in our garden every year and I plant most of them directly in the garden. But there are times when it is really nice to have some seedlings to put out. So here are my three reasons why I think you should be starting lettuce seeds indoors this year.
1 – Timing
I begin starting lettuce seeds indoors around January 15th every year. In fact, as I’m writing this post I currently have 12 lettuce seedlings that are about a week old out in the seeds starter. These seedlings will go out into our cold frames roughly March 1st. The reason why I am starting lettuce seeds indoors in January is that I want an extra early harvest of lettuce. But conditions in my cold frames in January and February are still much too cold for seeds to germinate. Even in the cold frames, the soil temperatures are in the 40’s which is just too cold for consistent seed germination. So the only way I can have early lettuce is by starting lettuce seeds indoors.
The seedlings that I plant indoors will be ready to go out into the cold frames about March 1st. By then the temperatures in the cold frames are perfect for growing lettuce. I follow my January 15th planting with 2 more plantings on February 1st and February 15th. This gives me several dozen lettuce plants to put out early in the cold frames that will all mature at different times and give us a great harvest 6 weeks sooner than we could get if we planted directly out in the garden
2 – Space
If you practice succession planting in your garden there may be times when you just don’t have the space to get lettuce seeds plated. Fall is a great example of that in our garden. The best time to start planting fall lettuce in our garden is about 8 weeks before our first frost. That date is August 1st. But at that time our garden is still packed with warm season plants. There just isn’t much space for planting lettuce seeds so by starting lettuce seeds indoors I am able to get a good start on my fall lettuce crop without taking up a ton of space in the garden. Those August 1st (and 15th) seedlings will be the perfect size to get out in the garden on September 15th, just as the temperatures are cooling down. The prime time for growing lettuce!! And by mid-September, most of my warm season crops are ready to be cleared out to make space for those lettuce plants and other fall crops.
3 – Better Finished product
I am terrible at thinning. Lettuce seeds are small and hard to plant and my outdoor planting usually looks like this:
There’s nothing wrong with this lettuce, but it is a little crowded and the leaves will be small and deformed. There are times when you really want a nice looking finished head of lettuce. I’m talking a really nice looking head of butter crunch lettuce, or maybe a nice tall head of romaine. It is much easier to get that really nice looking finished head of lettuce by starting lettuce seeds indoors. You are able to control the plants a lot better when you start them indoors and then transplant them out into the garden at around 6 weeks old. Starting lettuce seeds indoors leads to a really nice looking finished product.
Those are my 3 reasons for starting lettuce seeds indoors.
Give it a try this year, lettuce seedlings do really well when planted indoors and transplant well out into the garden.
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[…] January is a great time to get lettuce seedlings started. We love fresh lettuce, so it’s on the top of my list of what to plant in January! Leaf lettuce seems to tolerate the cold better than head lettuce does, so I stick with it for my earlier plantings. Try and look for hardy varieties that will be ready to plant outdoors in a few months! Want to learn more about why you should start lettuce indoors? Click here to learn why I do! […]
[…] When you’re gardening in February in zones 3 & 4, for the most part, you’re looking at starting your leafy greens. We eat a lot of lettuce around here, so I love getting lettuce started as soon as I can! I recommend that you start leafy varieties now instead of head lettuce. They tend to withstand the colder temperatures better! I know that starting lettuce indoors can be a controversial topic among gardeners. Click here to learn why I do start my lettuce indoors! […]