A Shady Lettuce Experiment

I like to watch a lot of PBS shows on gardening – such as Victory Garden, P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home, Cultivating Life, and Illinois Gardener.  The other night I was watching an episode where right in front of San Francisco’s Convention Center, they made a huge garden right in the parking lot.  It was pretty neat to see – and the garden areas were circular with burlap bags filled with straw around the perimeter to hold the soil in.

Well, this post doesn’t have much to do with that, but I was feeling antsy after seeing these that I just wanted to plant something!

So, I got out in the garage and looked around for some kind of container that was at leas six inches deep.  I found a green rubbermaid container that fit the bill.  I then filled it with soil from the garden and brought it into the house.

I am going to see if lettuce will grow well in a shady area.  We do not get any direct sunlight in our house because the garage is on the south side of the house – plus the forrest behind the house keeps it shaded.  Right now there is maybe 30 minutes to an hour of direct sunlight that comes in our bedroom window since the leaves of the trees in the forrest are gone and the sun is a little lower in the sky.

So, I set this container in our room by the windows and put about 17 lettuce seeds in it.  While I can’t keep all of them in there, I hope to at least keep six in this container.  The container is probably about 10 inches wide by 15 inches long – so that is pushing it with planting the lettuce that close.

But darn it!  I just can’t wait through all of this cold winter without doing something.  So, why not try to see if lettuce grows in a shady spot!  If this actually works out very well, I have a whole row behind the garage that I could use strictly for lettuce plantings and use the space in the main full-sun gardens for something else.

I haven’t known any veggies to grow well in full shade – but I read something online about folks growing lettuce in full shade and it working out.  So, why not – I have nothing to lose except 17 lettuce seeds and a little bit of time watering them.

Shady Lettuce

December 25

Update for today –  Approximately seven of the 17 lettuce seedlings have finally sprouted.  It took nine days to get to this point.  The lettuce sure didn’t sprout very well – but I blame that on the fact they were planted 1/2-inch or more under soil.  For lettuce, they should only be planted about 1/4-inch deep.

The lettuce is extremely “leggy” and is trying to reach for sunlight – which just isn’t readily available in this room.  I think it is pretty safe to say that growing lettuce in shade is a complete bust – at least for the idea that once they emerge from seedlings, they are putting all of their energy in making the main stem.  Compare this to the Experiment 2 – Growing Lettuce Under Lights .

Shady Lettuce Experiment

December 31

Nothing much has changed for these little seedlings.  They are still very long and stalky but the leaves have finally begun to try and open up.  The below picture doesn’t do much good because it was pretty dark in the room already when taken.

Shaded Lettuce Experiment



3 thoughts on “A Shady Lettuce Experiment”

  1. curt_grow
    🙂 So i tried it last year, but do it, it is fun, Hay can I turn you on to growing under lights. It is real easy. getting info sucks.People will argue and forget to answer your questions. I finally quit and did my own thing.People would not even tell me what to use for lettuce. Check out under lights on garden web. See what I mean. Well now I have a kitchen garden it is great sure helps winter ha ha I garden every day. Oh not much I know, but fun and taste good to. No bitter lettuce for me.

    Curt 🙂

  2. Reply to curt_grow
    Thank you for that information curt_grow. Actually, it is funny you mention the lighting forum because I just posted on there last night! I also asked what kind of bulb is needed to grow lettuce – just lettuce by itself since that is all I’m interested in growing during the winter at this point.

    I’m only wanting to do lettuce because the cost of electric. I used some 4-foot T12 Gro-Lux bulbs in the spring to get a head-start on getting the seeds to sprout – but I’m just hesitant as to whether that will be enough light for lettuce to grow under – given no other light. But, considering that a head of lettuce is $1.78 at the grocery store, it will be pretty close to breaking even on the cost of using just two 40-watt bulbs.

  3. FWIW, lettuce does grow rather well in the shade of other plants outdoors when things start to get a little too hot for regular open-field lettuce.

    I can manage to get 1-2 more rotations out of them stretching until it’s just too warm for the seedlings to germinate.

    Nice blog…nice rain catchment system, too.


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