Many gardeners, even ones that have been growing successful gardens for years, often shy away from growing lettuce in the scorching summer months, because they’re worried that their crop will be bitter or bolt before it’s ready to harvest. But growing lettuce during the hot months of summer is a breeze if you know these strategic shortcuts and secrets .
Choose a Heat-Tolerant Variety of Lettuce
There are plenty to choose from, such as ‘Nevada’, ‘Magenta’, and ‘Jericho’. Catalogs will tell you which varieties are heat-tolerant. Even discount stores and home stores offer a good selection of lettuce seeds, so you can pick up a packet or two on a regular shopping trip.
Grow Lettuce in Shade
If you live in an area with extreme heat (lots of 90°F days), set up shade cloth over the lettuce patch. Pound in four 4-to-5-foot-long tomato stakes, one at each corner of the patch. Use a staple gun to fasten a piece of shade cloth (available at garden centers) to the top of each stake.
Plant Lettuce in Furrows
Don’t scatter seeds over the surface of the bed as you might in the spring. Instead, use your fingers or a wooden stake to open shallow furrows 6 inches apart. Sprinkle in the seeds thickly and cover them lightly with soil. For a continuous supply, plant one short row every 2 to 3 weeks.
Water Lettuce with a Soaker Hose
Moisture is essential in hot weather. Snake a soaker hose between the rows and water daily for 1 hour if there’s no rain.
Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be cutting baby lettuce about 28 days after you first sow seeds. Use scissors to cut the plants about 1/2 inch above the base, and they will keep growing. Harvest lettuce in the cool of the morning or evening.