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Explore 4-H! Annual Open House

Join us each fall to learn more about 4-H, get club referrals, and meet real 4-H members and volunteers from all of our programs!

The next Explore 4-H open house is

Date:  October 5, 2019

Time:  2:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Place:  Evergreen State Fairgrounds, the 4-H building

Monroe, WA


Public Presentations 2019 Schedule

Public Presentations 2018-2019 dates

4-H Public Presentations 2018-2019 dates

Public Presentations Workshop

January 5, 2019 (Saturday)

1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Extension

This event is open to all members, leaders and parents that want to know about Public Presentations. Topics include

  • What makes up a public presentation
  • Why we do public presentations
  • The process and scoring of presentations
  • Examples of different types of presentations
  • Q&A and feedback on your presentation ideas

Please sign up here:

 Here are the dates for this year’s Public Presentation Contests:

All times listed below are start times, and we will do Public Presentations until the last member has had a chance to give their presentation.

March 17              1:00pm at Extension

April 6                   9:00am at Extension

April 17                5:00pm at Evergreen State Fairgrounds 4-H building ** (This date may change)

April 18                5:00pm at Evergreen State Fairgrounds 4-H building ** (This date may change)

County Public Presentation Dates are:

May 31                 5:00pm at Extension

June  1                  9:00am at Extension

Aug 11                 9:00am at Evergreen State Fairgrounds 4-H building ** (This is for Top Trophy contenders to practice before Fair.)

P.S. I can always use judges, and my goal is to get more judges that are from all projects. If you want to judge, email Dena Edgecombe at .

More information about how Public Presentations events are run, and how presentations are scored

WSU Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.  Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office.  Reasonable accommodations will be made for persons with disabilities and special needs who contact the 4-H office at WSU Snohomish County Extension 4-H, 600 128th St SE, Everett, WA 98208, 425-357-6044, at least two weeks prior to the event.

Recognize 4-H Youth Who Are #True Leaders!

True Leaders Campaign

Celebrate youth who are doing great things in their communities!

True Leaders Campaign

As part of the national 4-H branding initiative, we are asking for your help in spreading the word about youth leaders in 4-H and the impacts they have on their communities.  This initiative focuses on sharing successes using Social Media, through the use of hashtags.  The national 4-H marketing team will be tracking the success in this campaign at the county level through the hashtag and geotagging.  There will be a contest around the states and counties that contribute the most to the campaign—more details to follow!  For more information about how you can promote the true leaders in your 4-H life, check out the link above.


Using Crop Rotation in Home Vegetable Gardens

Use of crop rotation can lead to a healthier, more productive garden

(printer friendly version)

garden-rotation-plotsWhat is crop rotation? Crop rotation is one of agriculture’s oldest cultural practices. In a home vegetable garden, crop rotation involves changing the planting location of vegetables within the garden each season. Crop rotation is used to reduce damage from insect pests, to limit the development of vegetable diseases, and to manage soil fertility.

Why is crop rotation important? Each vegetable can be classified into a particular plant family. Plants belonging to the same family oftentimes are susceptible to similar insect pests and diseases, and have similar nutrient requirements. When vegetables classified in the same plant family are grown year after year in the same area of a garden, they provide insect pests with a reliable food source and disease-causing organisms (i.e., pathogens) with a continual source of host plants that they can infect. Over time, insect pest and pathogen numbers build in the area and damage to vegetable crops increases. Using crop rotation helps keep insect pest and pathogen numbers at low levels. In addition, the type of vegetable grown in a particular area in a garden has a direct effect on the fertility of the soil in that area. Each vegetable is unique in the type and amount of nutrients it extracts from the soil. Crop rotation can even out the loss of different soil nutrients and allow time for nutrients to replenish.

How do I plan a crop rotation for my home garden? Plan the crop rotation for your vegetable garden based on the types of vegetables that you grow. Vegetable crops in the same plant family should NOT be planted in the same area of a garden year after year. For example, if tomatoes are planted in a bed or area of a garden one year, vegetable crops such as peppers, eggplant, potatoes and tomatoes should not be planted in the same bed or area the following year because all of these plants belong to the nightshade family (Solanacaeae). The table at right provides a guide to common garden vegetables and their plant families.

Crop rotations vary in complexity. They can be as simple as changing vegetable locations annually, or can be extremely involved, using cover crops/green manures, and/or leaving parts of a garden fallow (i.e., planting nothing in an area) each year. Cover crops/green manures are planted before, after or in place of a vegetable crop to improve soil fertility and drainage, prevent erosion, and hold nutrients. See WSU Extension Fact Sheet FS111E, “Cover Crops for Home Gardens West of the Cascades” for details. Leaving an area fallow is often less desirable than planting a cover crop/green manure because an area without a planted crop tends to be more prone to erosion and can end up with a soil that does not drain properly. Alternatively, the area may become filled with weeds that will cause problems for future vegetable production.

crop-rotationFor crop rotation to be most effective, DO NOT plant an area with vegetables or cover crops/green manures from the same plant family more than once every three to four years. This length of crop rotation can be difficult to achieve in small gardens, but even changing plant families grown in an area of a garden from year to year is helpful in managing insect pests and diseases. To help in planning crop rotations, keep a garden log or map as a reminder of where vegetables are planted each year.

Vegetable plant family classifications

Carrot Family (Apiaceae) carrot, celery, parsley, parsnip
Goosefoot Family (Chenopodiaceae) beet, spinach, Swiss chard
Gourd Family (Cucurbitaceae) cucumber, muskmelon, pumpkin, summer squash, watermelon, winter squash
Grass Family (Poaceae) field corn, popcorn, sweet corn, wheat, rye, rice
Mallow Family (Malvaceae) okra
Mustard Family (Brassicaceae) broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radish, rutabaga, turnip
Nightshade Family (Solanaceae) eggplant, pepper, potato, tomato
Onion Family (Alliaceae) chives, garlic, leek, onion
Pea Family (Fabaceae) bush bean, kidney bean, lima bean, pea, pole bean, soybean
Sunflower Family (Asteraceae) endive, lettuce, sunflower

Growing the Allium (Onion) Family

Allium is the botanical name for a group of bulbous plants that include lovely flowering perennials as well as every cook’s staple, the indispensable onion. Alliums are a genus of plants of the Alliaceae family. They have fleshy layers wrapped around and protecting a growing bulbous center filled with reserve food products. Found in the wild throughout the Northern Hemisphere, alliums sport a single naked stem (without leaves) atop which bursts an umbel. The bulb structure of alliums enables the plants to tide over during cold or dry periods safely buried in the earth until favorable conditions return.

A cool season crop, these perennials are grown by the home gardener as annuals and bloom in the spring and summer in a range of colors from whites and pinks to reds and blues and even shades of yellow. Alliums produce chemical compounds including allicin which has anti-microbial activity, steroids, oligopeptides, and fatty acid derivatives. The chemical responsible for alliums seductive taste is cysteine sulfoxide. Depending on the species of allium, the taste may be stronger or weaker and in most cases, both the leaves and the bulbs are edible. Incidentally, green onions, sometimes called scallions, are just immature bulbing onions harvested early. If left in the ground, they would develop into regular onions.

Maritime NW Favorite Variety list

This list of onion family variety favorites for Maritime NW was gathered from the suggestions and experiences of our Snohomish County Growing Groceries and Master Gardener volunteers.


Onions are heavy feeders, requiring 2 to 3 pounds of 8-8-8 fertilizer per 100 feet of row. To keep a balance in your soil, many suggest a companion planting of leeks with peas, which produce a lot of nitrogen.

Here is a planting guide for the allium groups and integrated pest management tips:

Onions – Cepa group: Plant in the spring or fall from seed, seedling or sets (small bulb). Onion varieties require different daylight hours to form a bulb. After about six months, tops of dry onions will start to turn yellow. Break the plant over and let dry for a few days. Store in a dry, dark place.

Leeks – Porrum group: Plant seeds in late summer and thin to 4-6 inches. When plants are almost full grown, push soil up around stems to blanch them white. Harvest next year in early summer before the soil gets hot. Garlic – Plant cloves (garlic does not set fertile seed) in the late summer. Next summer, cease watering and the foliage will yellow. Break over like onions. Dig up bulbs and sun dry them for about three weeks until the skins become papery.

Shallots – Aggregatum group: Plant bulbs (reproduces only by bulb) in spring. The harvest will be next summer. Dig the bulbs out when tops begin to dry. Alliums are susceptible to stem and bulb nematodes. Rotate crops and use only certified seed. These cultural practices are your best defense. Alliums are also susceptible to thrips (use insecticidal soap), maggots (destroy crop), downy mildew (keep soil well drained and allow plants to dry out between waterings) and white rot (caused by fungus – destroy crop).

Growing the Legume (Pea) Family

Fresh peas and snap or green beans from the home vegetable garden can add variety and nutrition to family meals. These vegetables can be prepared direct from the garden, as well as frozen, canned or dried for later use.

Fresh peas planted in early spring are usually ready for harvest by June 10, depending on average temperatures, and may be harvested for up to two weeks. Snap beans planted in May or June are harvested from sometime in late June through mid-October. Successive plantings of small quantities of snap beans ensure a more continuous harvest.

Types of Peas and Beans

Peas are grown for either their edible seeds or pods. Garden or English peas, grown for their seeds, are harvested as soon as the pods are well-filled but the seeds are still tender and sweet. When small and tender, these peas can be eaten raw in salads. For cooking, shell them just before using and cook immediately.

Snow peas or sugar peas have edible flat pods and very small seeds. They should be picked when very young, just as the seeds start to form. If not picked at this stage, they can be shelled and eaten as garden peas, but are more starchy and not as sweet.

Sugar snap peas are also an edible pod pea but have larger and sweeter seeds and a thicker pod. They are grown to full size and then eaten like snap beans.

Sugar snap peas grow on tall vines that require the support of a trellis. Garden peas and snow peas have both climbing and low-growing varieties.

Beans may be harvested at various times depending on how they are to be used. When the seeds are immature and the pods edible, they are used as snap beans. High-quality snap beans should be harvested when tender and well-shaped, before the developing seeds cause the pods to bulge. As the seeds mature, they may be used as green shell beans; or as dry shell beans, if seeds mature fully and pods are allowed to dry. There are many other types of beans used as shell or dry beans. Only the snap or green bean and the yellow wax bean are included here.

Bean plants may have either a bush habit of growth, or a pole or vining habit. As with climbing pea varieties, pole beans should be staked or trellised for ease of picking. Bush beans and peas are recommended if garden space is limited. However, upright trellises can also be real space savers.

Maritime NW Favorite Variety list

This list of pea and bean family variety favorites for Maritime NW was gathered from the suggestions and experiences of our Snohomish County Growing Groceries and Master Gardener volunteers.

Planting Requirements

Peas are a cool-season crop and may be planted in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Sow seeds about one inch deep and two inches apart in the row. Low-growing varieties can be grown in rows 18 to 24 inches apart. Climbers need three feet between rows, or plant a double row six inches apart on either side of trellis.

Beans are a warm-season crop and should be planted after danger of frost has passed. Sow seeds one inch deep in heavy soils and 1-1/2 inches deep in sandy soils. Bush beans should be spaced three to four inches apart in the row. Space pole beans six to ten inches apart along a trellis or plant several beans to a pole.

Both peas and beans can be grown in a variety of soils, but good drainage is essential. Peas require a pH of 6.0 to 6.7. Beans prefer a slightly more acid condition of pH 5.8 to 6.3.

In addition, to ensure good growth, the use of an inoculant is an added insurance step for healthy legume crops. Each type of legume require a unique species of rhizobia bacteria for good inoculation. For more information on the topic in inoculants read Legume Seed Inoculants. Most well-stocked nurseries will have fresh inoculant available each spring that is a mix of species to work with most of the common legumes. Without good inoculation, the root nodules that help legumes fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and contribute to the plant and soil health cannot grow.


Specific application rates are best determined using the results of a soil test. Contact your local conservation district office for information on soil testing. Fertilizer may either be broadcast and worked into the soil before planting time or banded two inches to the side and three inches below the seed at the time of planting. A later side dressing, after pods begin to form, may be necessary if plants appear yellowish or are not growing well.

Cultural Practices

Weed control is essential especially in the first six weeks after planting. Shallow cultivation and hand-pulling are the preferred methods. The soil should be kept evenly moist. Overhead watering should be done early in the day to reduce the incidence of leaf diseases that occur when the leaves remain wet overnight. An organic mulch about two inches deep will conserve soil moisture and reduce weed problems.

Diseases that may attack beans include anthracnose, bacterial blight, mosaic, root rot and rust. Pea diseases include powdery mildew, root rot and wilt. If possible, rotate the location of peas and beans in the garden to reduce the incidence of soil-borne diseases that can build up over time.

Insect pests of peas and beans include aphids, Mexican bean beetles, leafhoppers, seed corn maggots and mites. Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for identification and control recommendations.

Harvest and Handling

Once peas and beans begin to reach the appropriate stage for picking, harvesting will continue on a daily basis for several days or even weeks with succession planting. Peas and beans are best used as soon as possible after harvest, but may be stored in the refrigerator for a few days if cooled immediately. The same applies for freezing and canning. For best quality, freezing and canning should be done within a few hours after picking.

Dry Beans in Western Washington

For detailed information on growing dry bean varieties to maturity in the Puget Sound region check out the publication Growing Dry Beans in Home Gardens

Growing the Apiaceae (Carrot) Family

carrot-rainbowVariety selection

Carrots are classified by the shape and length of the root. Imperator carrots are long with small shoulders and a tapered tip; Nantes are medium length with a blunt tip; Danvers are large and medium length; and Chantenay are short with large shoulders. Nantes types, like Nelson and Bolero, have excellent eating quality and fast maturity and are often preferred by home gardeners. When choosing varieties, look for those with good resistance to alternaria and cercospora. If you are interested in storage, chose varieties bred for that purpose. Many different colored carrot varieties are also now available, including purple and yellow carrots.

Maritime NW Favorite Variety list

This list of carrot family variety favorites for Maritime NW  was gathered from the suggestions and experiences of our Snohomish County Growing Groceries and Master Gardener volunteers.

Preparation and planting

Carrots grow best on deep, loose, well-drained mineral or organic soils with good water-holding capacity and few physical obstructions, such as stones. Soils that crust easily after a rain are not suitable because the seedlings will have trouble breaking through the surface. Sowing radish seeds with carrots may help solve the emergence problem. The quickly germinating, sturdy radish seedlings break up the crust so the delicate carrot seedlings can get through. Carrots are also sensitive to compacted soil. Carrots grown in such soils may develop forked and stubbed roots; work soil deeply so roots can reach their full length. If you are determined to grow carrots in a heavy soil, you’ll have better results with the shorter cultivars.


Keep the soil moist until the seedlings are at least 1 inch high; then thin to 2 inches between plants. A uniform supply of water is necessary for good root growth. Reduce watering when carrots reach three-quarters of their mature size to lessen the chance of splitting. For long season varieties on light soils, side-dressing with nitrogen may be helpful for optimal growth and quality.

Pests and diseases

Common pest and disease problems for carrots grown in Washington include leaf spot, root-knot nematodes, and phytoplasma disease. Phytoplasma is a plant disease caused by a very small parasitic bacterium. The bacterium is spread from plant to plant by sucking insects, primarily leafhoppers.

Carrot rust fly is the major insect pest of carrots. Control weeds in and around the garden as the rust fly feeds and breeds on a wide range of weed hosts. Do not store carrots in the ground over the winter. Rotate with non-susceptible crops. Other susceptible crops include all members of the Apiaceae family including parsnips, celeriac, and celery. After planting, cover with a floating row cover and leave on through harvest to prevent carrot rust flies laying eggs in the developing carrots.

For more information, download Growing Carrots in Home Gardens_FS118E (FS118E) from the WSU Extension Home Garden Series.

Harvesting and storage

Harvest carrots while they are still small, no more than 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter. Depending on cultivar and sowing date, harvesting may begin as early as July and continue until the end of October. For best flavor, do not harvest fall carrots until after a good frost.

Growing the Chenopod (Beet) Family

How to plant

Propagate by seed. Germination temperature: 50 F to 85 F – Will still germinate at temperatures as low as 40 F and as high as 90 F. Days to emergence: 5 to 8 – May take two to three weeks in colder soils. Seed can be saved 4 years.

Maintenance and care:

Plant in early spring, as soon as you can work the soil, ¾ inch deep and 1 inch apart in rows 12 to 18 inches apart. For continuous harvest, make successive plantings every three weeks until midsummer. For winter storage, sow crop about 10 weeks before heavy freeze.

The wrinkled “seedball” usually contains two to four viable seeds, making it necessary to thin to 3- to 4-inch spacings if you plan to harvest young, small or cylindrical-shaped roots, or 6-inch spacings for larger roots for winter storage.

Begin thinning when seedlings are about 4 to 5 inches tall, and eat the thinnings. Cut rather than pull plants when thinning to avoid disturbing roots of other plants. Some “monogerm” varieties have only one seed per fruit. Some seed companies remove seeds from the seedball. Unlike most root crops, beets can be started inside or in cold frames and transplanted into the garden.

Use floating row covers to discourage insects early in the season. Keep well-weeded. Competition and uneven watering can make beets stringy and tough. Beets are closely related to Swiss chard and spinach. Avoid following these crops in rotation.

Beets tolerate average to low fertility. Too much nitrogen will encourage top growth at the expense of root development. Best color and flavor develop under cool conditions and bright sun. When beets mature in warm weather, they are lighter colored, have less sugar and have more pronounced color zoning in the roots. Fluctuating weather conditions produce white zone rings in roots.

Beets are biennials. Normally, they produce an enlarged root during their first season. Then after overwintering they produce a flower stalk. If they experience two to three weeks of temperatures below 45 F after they have formed several true leaves during their first season, a flower stalk may grow prematurely. Many newer varieties are less sensitive to this problem.


Leafminer – Cover plants with fine netting or cheesecloth or floating row cover to protect them from adult flies. Handpick and destroy infested (mined) leaves. Control weeds.


Cercospora leaf spot – Avoid wetting foliage if possible. Water early in the day so aboveground plant parts will dry as quickly as possible. Avoid crowding plants. Thin plants to allow air circulation. Eliminate weeds around plants and garden area to improve air circulation. In autumn, rake and dispose of all fallen or diseased leaves and fruit.

Scab – Avoid wetting foliage if possible. Water early in the day so aboveground plant parts dry as quickly as possible. Avoid crowding plants Thin to allow air circulation.

Growing the Cucurbit (Squash) Family

Cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, muskmelons and watermelons are warm weather plants. Their growth, yield and quality is best when days are warm and sunny and the season is long. Cucumbers and summer squash usually require 50 to 65 days for first production. Watermelon and muskmelon need 80 to 95 days.

Delay planting until a week after the average last spring frost date for the area. If the weather is chilly, delay longer. Ideally, the temperature of the soil at a 2-inch depth should be 60 degrees F.

It is possible to lengthen the growing season by starting seedlings indoors and transplanting them to the garden when the weather warms. None of these plants tolerate disturbance of their root system. The only feasible method for transplanting is to start seedlings in pots and move them without damage to the roots.

Maritime NW Favorite Variety list

This list of cucumber squash family variety favorites for Maritime NW  was gathered from the suggestions and experiences of our Snohomish County Growing Groceries and Master Gardener volunteers.


These vegetables usually are planted in hills or mounds so excess water drains away from the seedlings. Plant five or six seeds together in hills 4 to 6 feet apart. Cover the seeds with about 1 inch of soil. After emergence, thin each hill to the two or three strongest seedlings. Cucumbers can be planted next to fences or trellises, to which they will cling.

If the soil has not been tested for nutrient levels, then apply 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. This may be obtained with 2 pounds of urea, which contains about 46 percent active ingredients. Work the fertilizer into the top 4 inches of soil prior to planting the seed.

If organic fertilizers are preferred, use 2 bushels of manure or 1 cup of bone meal and 1 cup of dried blood per 100 square feet. These organic fertilizers also can be divided up and worked in around the hills rather than spread over the whole area.

If the seeds are planted in moist soil, no further watering should be needed until after the seedlings emerge. As the plants grow and the weather becomes warmer, more water will be required. When the plants cover the soil surface and in warm weather, the plants may use 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water per week. It is better to irrigate thoroughly every five to seven days than to sprinkle lightly every day. Temporary wilting in the heat of the afternoon is common, but wilted plants in the morning is a distress signal — water them.


These vegetables are subject to attack by a number of insects, each of which has a recommended chemical for control. However, it is not practical for a home gardener to maintain a large arsenal of chemicals for insect control. Instead, produce healthy plants and deal with insect problems when they arise. Try an insecticidal soap first. It is the least toxic and most environmental friendly control.

Before using pesticides, positively identify the target pest. Then follow the label instructions for the pesticide to be used. Regulations regarding the use of chemicals for pest control are continually changing.

When diseases strike these vegetables, assess the situation. If only a few leaves are affected, remove them. This may solve the problem. If it is more general, then chemical control may be in order.

Among cucumber diseases, the most likely is Angular Leaf Spot. This bacterial disease causes angular-shaped lesions on the leaves and also attacks the fruit. These lesions become necrotic, producing the angular areas which give the disease its name. The first course of action is to stimulate growth by applying nitrogen and water. Reduce competition for sunlight and space by removing competing foliage. If six uninfected leaves can be maintained at the ends of the vines, the plants will remain productive. After having accomplished this, the foliage may be sprayed with a copper compound to control the disease.

Late season diseases are associated with the natural dying of the plant and their control affords no benefits.

Weeds are most safely controlled by sanitation and mechanical means. Do not allow weeds to go to seed in the garden. Do not apply materials known to contain weed seeds. When weeds do arise, remove them while they are small, before they become competitive.


Gardeners often become concerned when these plants begin to flower but no fruits are produced. Most varieties produce several male flowers before female flowers appear and fruits are set. It is easy to differentiate between male and female flowers.

If female flowers are being produced, there are two common reasons for failure to set fruit:

  1. If there are growing fruits already on the plant, they will inhibit further fruit set until they mature or are harvested.
  2. These plants depend upon insects, mainly honeybees, for pollination. If insect activity is very low, fruits may not set due to lack of pollination. Insufficient pollination sometimes results in deformed fruits.


Cucumbers and summer squash are harvested and used as immature fruit. Time of harvesting depends on fruit size. For summer squash, fruits about 6 inches long are of prime quality. Cucumbers for slicing usually are harvested at about 6 to 8 inches. For pickling it is wise to select the size best for the kind of pickles desired. Harvest often and thoroughly. Fruits left on the plants will inhibit further fruit set until they mature.

Winter squash and pumpkins are harvested when mature. The skin will harden so it can’t be penetrated easily by a thumbnail. These mature fruits can be stored most of the winter if protected from freezing.

Winter melons (casaba, crenshaw, honeydew) also can be stored for several weeks if harvested before they begin to soften.

Harvest watermelons and cantaloupes when fully ripe. They don’t store well. Watermelon ripeness can be judged by thumping — a dull sound indicates ripe, a ringing sound not ripe — or by a buttery-yellow color of the soil where the fruit rests on the ground.

Ripe cantaloupes slip easily from the vine when picked up; unripe ones require more force to pull them away from the vine. The background color of cantaloupes also changes from grayish green to yellowish as they ripen, and the characteristic musky odor develops.

Growing the Asteraceae (Lettuce) Family

An ever-expanding selection of greens for salads in the supermarket, as well as salad bars popping up in nearly every restaurant, is a reflection of the new health-conscious eating habits sweeping the United States. Several types of lettuce can be grown in the home garden adding variety, texture and color to the family diet.

Lettuce varieties can be loosely categorized into four groups: crisphead, butterhead, leaf, and romaine or cos. Each group has its own growth and taste characteristics.

Types of Lettuce

Crisphead lettuce is probably the most familiar of the four. It is characterized by a tight, firm head of crisp, light-green leaves. In general, crisphead lettuce is intolerant of hot weather, readily bolting or sending up a flower stalk under hot summer conditions. For this reason, plus the long growing period required, it is the most difficult of the lettuces to grow in the home garden.

The butterhead types have smaller, softer heads of loosely folded leaves. The outer leaves may be green or brownish with cream or butter colored inner leaves. There are several cultivars available that will do well in our gardens.

Leaf lettuce has an open growth and does not form a head. Leaf form and color varies considerably. Some cultivars are frilled and crinkled and others deeply lobed. Color ranges from light green to red and bronze. Leaf lettuce matures quickly and is the easiest to grow.

Romaine or cos lettuces form upright, cylindrical heads of tightly folded leaves. The plants may reach up to 10 inches in height. The outer leaves are medium green with greenish white inner leaves. This is the sweeter of the four types.

Maritime NW Favorite Variety list

This list of lettuce family variety favorites for Maritime NW was gathered from the suggestions and experiences of our Snohomish County Growing Groceries and Master Gardener volunteers.

Climatic Requirements

Lettuce is a cool-season vegetable and develops best quality when grown under cool, moist conditions. Lettuce seedlings will tolerate a light frost. Temperatures between 45 F and 65 F are ideal. Such conditions usually prevail in Ohio in spring and fall. Seeds of leaf lettuce are usually planted in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked. Butterhead and romaine can be grown from either seeds or transplants. Due to its long-growing season, crisphead lettuce is grown from transplants. Transplants may be purchased or started indoors about six weeks before the preferred planting date.

Soil Requirements

Lettuce can be grown under a wide range of soils. Loose, fertile, sandy loam soils, well-supplied with organic matter are best. The soil should be well-drained, moist, but not soggy. Heavy soils can be modified with well-rotted manure, compost, or by growing a cover crop. Like most other garden vegetables, lettuce prefers a slightly acidic pH of 6.0 to 6.5.

Cultural Practices

Since lettuce seed is very small, a well-prepared seedbed is essential. Large clods will not allow proper seed-to-soil contact, reducing germination. Lettuce does not have an extensive root system so an adequate supply of moisture and nutrients is also necessary for proper development.

Fertilizer and lime recommendations should be based on the results of a soil test. Contact your local Conservation District office for information on soil testing. As a general rule, however, apply and work into the soil three to four pounds of 5-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet of garden area.

Seed may be sown in single rows or broadcast for wide row planting. Wide rows should be 12 to 15 inches across. Cover the seeds with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil. Water carefully but thoroughly. Several successive plantings of leaf lettuce will provide a more continuous harvest throughout the growing season. Leave 18 inches between the rows for leaf lettuce, and 24 inches for the other types. To achieve proper spacing of plants, thinning of lettuce seedlings is usually necessary. Thin plants of leaf lettuce four to six inches or more between plants depending on plant size. Butterhead and romaine should be thinned six to ten inches between plants. Finally, crisphead transplants should be spaced 10 to 12 inches apart in the row.

An organic mulch will help conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and keep soil temperatures cool. If weeds do become a problem, either pull by hand or cultivate very shallowly to avoid damage to lettuce roots. Planning your garden so that lettuce will be in the shade of taller plants, such as tomatoes or sweet corn, in the heat of the summer, may reduce bolting.


In Western Washington, slugs are the major pest on lettuce. Handpicking, eliminating hiding places, and iron phosphate bait can help control them.


All lettuce types should be harvested when full size but young and tender. Over-mature lettuce is bitter and woody. Leaf lettuce is harvested by removing individual outer leaves so that the center leaves can continue to grow. Butterhead or romaine types can be harvested by removing the outer leaves, digging up the whole plant or cutting the plant about an inch above the soil surface. A second harvest is often possible this way. Crisphead lettuce is picked when the center is firm.

Washington State University