It gives great satisfaction in eating a salad plucked from your own garden. For black thumbs eager to dip a toe in hyper-locavore culture, lettuce is an ideal entry-level veggie, and one of the few edibles that you can plant. If you simply follow these tips you can easily grow lettuce in your backyard.

As soon as soil has thawed, you can start planting lettuce. You can opt for mixing your existing soil with peat as well as compost – either home-grown or store-bought, depending on how earthy (or stinky) you’re willing to get. An electric soil reader will test the soil’s PH levels (most lettuce does best between 6 and 7). Sandy soil requires frequent watering, while anything with a higher clay content retains moisture more readily.

If you’re the type of veggie-lover who has trouble keeping the house plants alive, you’ll want to avoid the crisp head lettuces like iceberg, that are generally more temperamental. Arugula is a delicious leafy option that will grow right up until Thanksgiving. Other amateur-friendly options include Boston Bibb and watercress.

Most varieties like some sunlight, but not too much, so generally the best place is in partial sunlight, although direct sun is fine in the cooler months, while full shade works during the dog days of July and August. Crops take about six weeks to reach maturity so succession planting about every three weeks is a good idea if you want salad all summer long. Scatter seeds in a sunny spot in May, choose a shadier plot for plants that will be harvested at summer’s peak and then go back to the original spot for an early fall crop.

Rather than spend time and effort dropping seeds in a perfect grid formation, It’s a good idea to rake the soil, so some of the seeds get covered by a thin layer of soil.

Once a lettuce plant has matured, it needs to be harvested right away. Left growing too long, leaves become nastily bitter and the plant starts to flower. Like all living things, plants have natural allies, so there’s no need to keep your veggie patch homogeneous. Carrots, cucumbers, radishes and strawberries all do well growing alongside lettuce, as do herbs like chives and sage. Toss it all together, and you’ve got yourself a seriously delicious salad.

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