Lettuce makes decorative plantings in pots with many varieties that range from light to dark. They are easy to grow and yield one of the first crops in the spring. A bit of parsley in the pot is attractive with lettuce as it adds a deep dark green. Leaf lettuce can be harvest when the plants are still small and the season can be extended by cutting a few leaves at a time.
These are some varieties from Stokes:
Green Salad Bowl – 48 days
Red Salad Bowl – 51 days. We grew a this dark leaf lettuce one year and a young niece called it “dungeon lettuce” because it looked like it was grown in the dungeon.
Grand Rapids – 45 days. This plant if properly hardened, can survive temperatures as low as -7 deg.C. It can be grown in flats and transplanted.
Red Fire – 43 days
Simpson – 41 days
Lettuce grows best in cool weather in the spring and fall. Sow every 2-3 weeks for a continual harvest. Seeds should sprout in 7-15 days, depending on conditions.
Lettuce needs cool temperatures to sprout. In the summer months sprout them in flats in a cool area, or pre-sprout by sprinkling seeds on a damp paper towel and place in a plastic bag in the fridge for a few days.
In hot weather lettuce goes to seed rapidly, so have new seedlings ready to plant. Lettuce is attractive grown amongst flowers as the green leaves provide contrast.
Life expectancy of Lettuce Seed – Under ideal conditions, lettuce seed is viable for six years. (http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/1999/4-2-1999/veggielife.html) You may want to do a germination test on old seed. Moisten a paper towel and place the seeds on it. Put in a plastic bag and check after 2 or 3 days for sprouting.
Slugs can be a problem for young lettuce plants. Water early in the morning, after the slugs have crept into their hiding places. If you water in the morning the ground will be dry by evening and not be attractive to them. Slugs need shade in the day and watering at night encourages them. Remove all hiding spots from the garden, including bricks, pots or boards which can trap a bit of water. However, if you want to trap slugs, leave one board and in the morning gather them from underneath.