Most people would prefer to eat fresh, wholesome vegetables picked at the peak of ripeness and flavor instead of bland, underripe supermarket varieties. However, many of the same people live in apartments or have small yards without space for a home garden. The nice thing about garden plants, though, is that they are generally not fussy--give them a reasonably deep and fertile soil and some sunshine, and most will do well in pots you can keep on a patio, a balcony or even a south-facing windowsill. Lettuce is a fine plant to consider growing if your garden space is limited. Lettuce needs soil of relatively shallow depth, so is ideal for container growing.
Fill a shallow pot 4 to 6 inches deep with good quality potting soil or aged compost.
Press the soil firmly to remove entrapped air spaces, and smooth the surface.
Sprinkle lettuce seeds thinly over the surface. Try to maintain a half-inch spacing between seeds if possible.
Use a scrap piece of window screening or a sieve to sift a fine layer of soil over the top of the seeds so that they are barely covered.
Press the soil lightly to make good contact with the seeds.
Set the pot in a tray or sink with 2 or 3 inches of water in it, and allow the water to soak into the container slowly from the bottom until the surface of the soil is slightly damp to the touch.
Place the pot in a warm space--about 72 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal--until seedlings emerge, then put it in a sunny location.
Thin seedlings to 3 or 4 inches apart once they are about an inch tall, then begin harvesting the leaves sparingly--not whole plants--when they reach about 3 inches in height.
Feed plants once each week with a dilute solution of aged manure in water. The solution strength is not particularly critical, but it should resemble strong tea in color and transparency.