Ask Linnea: Time to Plant Lettuce

Q: When is the best time to plant lettuce seed?

A: March 30th is the date Purdue University recommends as the earliest date for planting lettuce outdoors in Indiana. But you can start lettuce indoors right about now, up to six weeks prior to this planting date.

Fill a planting flat full of lightweight potting soil, then sow seeds 1/2" deep and about 1" apart. (You can glue seeds with a non-toxic glue to a paper towel such as Seventh Generation, to make planting strips spacing these tiny seeds.)

Keep the flats in a cool place at about 60 degrees. When seedlings are 1" high, repot them into individual containers and place in a sunny cool spot in your house. Once the lettuce is 2-3" tall it is safe to plant outside. Remember to let the young tender plants acclimate to the wind and sun. If you intend to plant the lettuce in the ground, space the seedlings 2" apart until they begin to touch each other. Thinning is recommended every time the leaves start to touch, until the desired spacing of 6-8" between plants is reached. Once your plants are growing happily, fertilize with compost or other organic material to energize the soil.

Seed of Change seed packets will be available at Bloomingfoods in March. Seeds of Change offers 100% organically grown seed, including a spicy mesclun salad mix, and many interesting varieties of lettuce: Formidana, Red Iceberg, Winter Density, Rouge d'Hiver, Bronze Mignonette, Tom Thumb, Red Oak Leaf, Cosmo Savoy, and Ruben's Red Romaine. This year, try something new!