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Grow Your Own Salad: How to Grow Lettuce from Seed to Harvest with Nicole from Gardenary, Ep 184



Did you know that the freshest and most delicious lettuce comes from growing them yourself? At home, Billy and I haven't bought a plastic box of lettuce in months and enjoy fresh salad almost daily! We've been growing lettuce hydroponically indoors and are now gearing up to start our outdoor lettuce garden. In this episode, we're joined by Nicole Burke from Gardenary, who shares her expertise on growing lettuce and how you can start your own lettuce garden, even if you don't have a lot of space or experience! Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a houseplant parent looking to expand your plant collection, this episode has something for everyone.


In this episode, we learn:

  • [00:03] Maria shares indoor hydroponic lettuce growth and outdoor lettuce garden prep.
  • [06:02] Why lettuce is ideal for first-time food-growing houseplant parents.
  • [06:53] What is Gardenary all about?
  • [08:23] How Nicole makes beautiful raised-bed gardens
  • [14:19] Where are 98% of the United States lettuces grown?
  • [17:01] What materials are needed for lettuce?
  • [20:47] Where can you find a wide array of quality lettuce seeds and seed mixes?
  • [23:27] Where to get a potting mix, soil, fertilizer, or compost for your garden beds/containers?
  • [25:15] What lettuce does Nicole recommend for beginners?
  • [24:34] Lettuce Category #1: Loose leaf
  • [29:15] Lettuce Category #2: Head lettuce
  • [31:09] Is Nicole indoor-starting or direct-sowing lettuce?
  • [32:32] How do you calculate when it's time to start direct sowing?
  • [35:55] What is the process of growing lettuce from seed?
  • [36:14] Process #1: If you have limited space
  • [40:40] Where to find a nutrition program for weight management, more energy, and clear skin?
  • [42:55] Process #2: If you live in an apartment
  • [46:01] What are Nicole’s tips for harvesting?
  • [47:53] What mistakes do people commonly make in growing lettuce?
  • [49:58] How to eat Swiss chard
  • [52:23] Have you heard of Nicole’s newest book Kitchen Garden Revival?
  • [57:45] Where can you follow Nicole?


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How to Grow Your Own Lettuce

Growing lettuce is a great way to get into gardening and doesn't require a lot of materials or space! We’ll walk you through everything you need to know to get started.


Materials You Need

The great part about lettuce is that you can do this in a high rise, no matter your setup. To get started, you’ll need four things:

  1. A container: Lettuce doesn't like to stay wet, so it's best to plant it in a raised bed or container. This way, you can control the amount of water it gets and avoid any issues with pests!
  2. Loose soil: Lettuce prefers sandy loam soil, which is a blend of compost, topsoil, and core sand. 
  3. Seeds: To get the healthiest plants, you’ll want to start with seeds rather than plants from a nursery. Plus, you'll know exactly what's gone into the growing process!
  4. Water: Lettuce is mostly water, so it's important to keep the soil moist during the first few weeks of growth.

Tip: Don't leave your seeds unattended during the first two weeks. They need daily watering to stay moist.


Beginner's Guide to Lettuce Types

For beginners, choosing which type of lettuce to grow can be challenging. Nicole decided to share with us her favorite types of lettuce that are perfect for beginners!

Loose Leaf Lettuces: The Easiest to Start

  • Arugula: A no-fail lettuce that tastes much sweeter when you grow it yourself.
  • Black Seeded Simpson: This bright green, wrinkly lettuce grows very easily.
  • Spring Mix: You can try Territorial Seed Company’s spring mixes!
  • Spinach: Spinach takes longer to come up, but the quality of a homegrown spinach salad is worth it!

Biennial Lettuces: Greens That Last

  • Kale: They can last for two to three years in your garden.
  • Swiss Chard: Just pull off the outer leaves and watch it grow!

Head Lettuces: A Little More Challenging

  • Romaine: Can be grown as a loose-leaf or head lettuce.
  • Cabbages: A bit more challenging, but worth the effort (for a crunchy head).
  • Iceberg: A head lettuce that grows well given enough room.

Give your lettuce plenty of root space and don't be afraid to experiment with spacing to achieve different sizes of leaves. And most importantly, have fun with it!


Growing Your Own Lettuce: From Seed to Salad

With just a small space, a few supplies, and a bit of time, you can have a delicious salad in no time!

What You Need

To get started, all you need is 16 square feet of space, which can be in the form of a 2 x 8 bed, 1 by 16, or 4 x 4. To fill your bed, mix together equal parts topsoil, compost, and sand. You can also add earthworm castings for an extra boost.

Next, grab two packages of spring mix salad seeds from your favorite seed source. I love spring mixes from Territorial Seed Company.


When it’s time to plant, simply hold the seeds in your hand and shake them over the bed. Then, use a hand rake to make sure the seeds have good soil contact and a light covering. For extra protection, spread some earthworm castings over the top.

Finally, use a 2-gallon watering can to lightly water the bed. This will help the seeds germinate.

Caring For Your Lettuce

Once you’ve planted your lettuce, keep the bed watered for the next eight days. After that, you can slow down the watering to every two to three days.

By day 30, you should have a bed full of tiny leaves! At this point, you can start harvesting. Cut the lettuce from the outside and leave two to three inches of leaf growth above the soil level. Then, come back in 15 or 20 days and repeat.


Harvesting vegetables is a great way to enjoy fresher, crisper produce. Here are some tips from Nicole to ensure you get the best results from your harvest:

  • Don't cut down to the root if you're doing loose leaf
  • Harvest early in the morning when lettuces have had time to settle overnight and absorb water from the soil
  • Use a sharp pair of scissors or garden snips to make clean cuts
  • Store head lettuces and biennials, like kale and Swiss chard, longer than loose leaf
  • Harvest just in time, picking only what you'll eat that day, for the best results

By following these tips, you can make sure that your homegrown lettuce and greens are fresh, crisp, and delicious every time you harvest. So head out to your garden to enjoy the fruits (or rather, vegetables) of your labor!


Mentioned in our conversation:



Thank you to our episode sponsors:

Territorial Seed Company

Growing your own salad is made easier with a wide variety of lettuce seeds and seed mixes! Skip the lines at the garden center and let Territorial Seed Company deliver top-of-the-line, healthy and hardy plants right to your door. They have a great line of pre-grown plants, an expansive seed catalog, and over 40 years of experience delivering the best seeds and plants for everyone's garden. Whether you are looking for leafy veggies, flowers or edible plants in either seed or seedling form, Territorial Seed Company has your back.

Get 10% off by visiting – discount applied at checkout.

Espoma Organic

Gardening is less complicated when you have the right products on hand! Espoma Organic is dedicated to making safe indoor and outdoor gardening products for people, pets, and the planet. They have an amazing variety of high-quality, organic potting mixes, garden soil, fertilizers, and pest control products that are organic and eco-friendly. To top it all off, they have a huge sustainability commitment with a 100% solar powered plant, zero waste manufacturing and eco-friendly packaging.

Visit to find your local Espoma dealer or check my Amazon storefront.


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Get 20% off your first order when you use code “GROWINGJOY” at


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