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In the Garden: Growing Your Own Lettuce

Ben Sippel picks romaine lettuce for his business in Mount Gilead, Ohio in this file photo from 2007
Ben Sippel picks romaine lettuce for his business in Mount Gilead, Ohio in this file photo from 2007

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This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Some people like to start their dinner with a salad of lettuce or other leafy greens. Ancient Egyptians and Romans also liked to have lettuce with their evening meal. But they served it at the end.

There are hundreds of kinds of head and leaf lettuces. The most popular ones include head lettuces such as iceberg, Boston, bibb and romaine.

Experts say lettuce is one of the easiest vegetables to grow in your garden. The best time to plant the seeds is during cool weather. Advisers at the University of Illinois Extension say the best planting temperature is fifteen degrees Celsius.

Lettuce seeds are small, so do not place them too deep in the ground. If you plant some seeds every week or two, you will have harvests ready to eat one after another.

You can use a seed tray to start the seeds indoors. The container should be deep enough to hold at least three centimeters of soil.

There should be about one centimeter of space between the soil and the top of the container. The container should have holes in the bottom so extra water can flow out.

Drop the seeds over the surface and cover them lightly with soil. If the soil is not already a little wet, give it some water. But not too much -- you do not want to drown the seeds.

Next, cover the seed tray with paper. Remove the paper when the seedlings have grown up far enough to touch it. You can transplant the seedlings into the garden when they are about two to three centimeters tall. Do this when the weather is not too hot and not too cold.

Take out as much of the soil as you can with the seedlings. Plant them in the ground in a hole that is bigger than the lettuce roots. Keep the plants watered, but not too heavily.

Harvest leaf lettuces when the leaves are big enough to eat. Pull the leaves from the outside of the planting so the inside leaves will keep growing. Or, you can cut off the whole plant. Leave about two or three centimeters above the ground so the plant will re-grow. Cut off head lettuces at ground level.

Lettuce is best when served fresh. Store the remainder in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. It will last a few days and sometimes longer.

And that’s the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. Transcripts and podcasts of our reports are at And captioned videos are on YouTube at VOA Learning English. I'm Faith Lapidus.