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Past Articles Library | Garden Plants | How to Grow Bibb Lettuce

How to Grow Bibb Lettuce


Bibb lettuce is a wonderful treat that is considered a cole or cool season crop.  This green typical does not do well when the weather warms and tends to bolt during the hot summer.  Bolting can be described as the plant sending up a flower stalk.  This natural process makes the leaves of Bibb lettuce turn bitter in flavor, which is a turn off for many gardeners.

Bibb lettuce can be directly sowed into the soil or started indoors but regardless of the method you choose the soil will need to be prepared.  Begin the soil preparation process by creating a soil that is rich in organic matter and is well drained. 

Once the soil is prepared it is time to plant the seed.  Starting your seeds indoors can give the gardener an early start on harvesting.  Before you jump into planting seeds, you need to first calculate when to begin this process.  Bibb lettuce matures in 55 to 60 days.  If you want to place your seedlings outdoors, you will need to count back a few weeks from your area’s last frost date.  Once you have your seeding date, you can begin the planting process.

To seed indoors, simply fill a seed tray with an all-purpose soil and place several seeds in each cell.  Cover with a fine soil and water in completely. 

Seeds can also be planted indoors and the seedlings can remain indoors in a hotbed.  This approach works well if you plan on growing the Bibb lettuce as a microgreen.

If you do not want to get ahead start on the garden season, one can simply plant the seed in the garden bed.  It can be broadcast over the garden soil or planted in rows.  If you broadcast the seed, simply pour into your hand and throw.  Another approach is to put the seed in a salt or peppershaker.  The holes in the lid are large enough for the seed to go through. 

If you plan to use the row approach, try this planting technique to control seed rate.  Just open the seed packet and allow the seeds to roll down the side fold of the packet.  Place the edge of the packet on your index finger and gently tap on that finger.  This will allow the seeds to roll out one at a time instead of all at once.  

Regardless of the approach you use, you do not have to worry about plant fertilization.  Since the leaves are what are eaten from the Bibb lettuce, the only environmental requirements needed for this plant beyond water is sunlight.  Growing Bibb lettuce indoors can give the gardener a year-round supply of lettuce.

Once the seeds have been planted, you can expect to see little green dots beginning to appear in 7 to 10 days.

After danger of frost has passed, you can plant your seedlings into the garden soil.  Place seedlings 10 inches apart in rows 18 inches.

Keep the soil evenly moist regardless of which technique you use.  Harvesting can begin as soon as the leaves on the lettuce are big enough to pick.  If you planted seed, you can begin your harvest by thinning out the crop.  This thinning process should occur twice during the season.  This type of lettuce harvesting produces a microgreen size leaf. 

If you planted plants or the thinning process is complete, the next step in the harvesting process is to pick the leaves.  Individual leaves can be picked and should be removed from the bottom to the top.  If you want to extend your harvest, simply cut the entire leaf stalk about ½ inch from the soil surface.  This will encourage the plant to produce more leaves.  The later technique is great to use when the weather begins to warm and the plants begins to bolt.  Removing the leaves and the stalk allows the plant to ride out the warm weather and produce one more crop of leaves.


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Rotate Certain Crops

Avoid planting potatoes and tomatoes where they grew last year. They carry the same diseases, so it's best to rotate them.

You'll have much healthier plants, and more successful crops.

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