Fresh, crispy lettuce is the basis for salads, the filler for sandwiches and the garnish for all your summer dishes. Iceberg, romaine, red butter and curly leaf lettuces are all familiar varieties of this versatile annual. Lettuce grows best in cool spring and fall weather. Plant seeds as soon as the ground is workable in the spring for an early summer harvest. Plant a second crop in the late summer for a fall harvest. Romaine lettuce can be grown all summer under the shade of other heat-hardy plants. Most leafy lettuces like romaine, red butter and curly leaf lettuce reach maturity in 50 to 60 days. Iceberg takes an extra 10 days to reach harvestable maturity.
Fill a bowl with cool water. Put the lettuce seeds into the water and soak them for 24 hours.
Remove the seeds and lay them on a paper towel to dry for one to two hours.
Turn over the soil in your garden bed and remove all weeds.
Make 1/4-inch-deep holes in the soil using a dowel or your index finger. Space holes 1 inch apart in rows that are 12 inches apart.
Place one seed into each hole and cover it with soil. Pat the soil down firmly over the seed.
Water the soil until it is damp to a depth of 1 inch. Water every other day to keep the soil damp but not saturated.
Thin seedlings when they are 1 to 2 inches high. Thin leafy lettuce to 6 inches apart and icebergs to 12 inches apart.