Lettuce is easy and quick to grow. One of the easiest cooler weather crops, lettuce can work well as a microgreen, a cover crop, or as a filler for garden space. Lettuce works best when planted directly in the garden or a container. Starting lettuce indoors and transplanting it into the garden is not recommended. While it is possible to do, it will likely never grow the full head, and the leaves will be skinny. Scatter seeds along the surface and press down gently into the soil. If you can avoid covering them with soil, they will germinate faster, but if birds are prevalent, cover with a very thin layer of soil, no more than a 1/4”. Once seedlings are at least 2-3” tall, thin to 6-8” apart. Because lettuce has very shallow roots, use scissors to cut the seedlings off at ground level and utilize the cuttings in salads or sandwiches as microgreens. Side dress with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer every 4-6 weeks throughout the growing season. Lettuce can be harvested as growing occurs, by taking off outer leafs and leaving the hearts in place, however, this will not produce a proper head like you see in the store. To get this, you must leave the plant until the head has formed and harvest the whole thing. However, leaf lettuce will never grow a head and older/larger leaves should be harvested first. Try to stagger lettuce seeds in order to harvest leaves from some plants while others are left to grow the whole head.
Once lettuce begins to flower, the taste of the leaves can become bitter, but flower stalks can be cut to extend the life of the plant. However, if the weather is warm enough to cause bolting, it is likely that pests will be more prevalent and drawn to your plants, so wash any late harvests with more care.