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Today we’re talking about a few tips to keep bugs out of my lettuce and ensure that your fresh produce, the labor of your love, lands on your table, not in the bug’s mouth!

🛑 Warning: you will never buy lettuce again at the store if you continue to read. 🛑

Let’s start first with a little secret. Don’t start cooking or growing your own food; ignorance is bliss. You will be ruined forever once you taste fresh food from your garden or a perfect eggs benedict.

Fresh sweet beets or peppery arugula, sweet and juicy kale, or the crunch of fresh sugar snap peas, gardening is a labor of love and hard work, but all the effort you put into caring for your plants leads to delicious rewards.

Kale – The One Food You Should Never Buy at the Store

Fresh lettuce is easy to grow and will keep you in fresh food all winter. Kale from the store is dry and lacks flavor. If you have ever bought it, chances are you only did once.

My go-to, easy-to-grow leafy greens this year are Winterbor Kale and Red Russian Kale. An honorable mention is Aruguala, planted in succession every 2-3 weeks for a harvest all winter long.

I Kill Everything, Where Do I Start?

Lettuce and Kale are cold-season plants, so fall and spring for most of the country, or in Southern California with our two seasons, plant lettuce in the fall and harvest all winter, anytime between October – February.

Here are a few essential rules to get started:

Start Arugula from Seeds

  1. Ignore the plants in the store. They will go to flower (aka, bolt) before they get used to your home garden.
  2. Warm weather will cause them to grow quickly and become very spicy. If it’s warm or sunny, try covering them with a shade cloth. This will slow their climb for the sky and extend the harvest.
  3. Stick to the recommended spacing to prevent overcrowding, making the plants more susceptible to garden bugs in my lettuce pests.

Grab Kale from The Nursery

  1. Start small; try a few 12″ pots to get started.
  2. Harvest leaves in the morning before it’s warm.
  3. Don’t let them get too big; they are more delicious when small.

If you miss a few big leaves, don’t worry. Pull them off to make room for new growth.

How to Keep Bugs Out of My Lettuce?

If you are not careful, spring pests like aphids, slugs, and caterpillars can wreak havoc on your labor of love.

3 Habits to Keep Bugs Off Your Lettuce

No one likes bugs in their lettuce! So, here are 3 easy steps to keep your lettuce clean and pest free.

  1. 🔎 Check-In Every Day: Be active and do a quick 30-second check for new bugs and damage every day. The sooner you identify the bugs and get them under control, the better.
  2. Don’t overcrowd plants: Those plants will grow. Give it time. Not only will plants compete for limited nutrients, but airflow will decrease, and pets can move quickly between plants.
  3. ⛱️ Cover your crop: This will protect sensitive plants from moths, which lay eggs that turn into caterpillars. As a bonus, the shade will also extend the growing season.

Remember, be active in your garden and maintain a vigilant eye. Regular interest will help you keep any potential issues at bay and ensure that you have a flourishing garden to enjoy throughout the season.

Don’t Panic; It’s Organic

Organic oils and soaps are your best friend; rotating between them will solve almost every pest problem.

Does your new growth have lots of white and green bugs?

Aphids are a constant battle for most gardeners.

  • Start by knocking them off with a strong spray of water from a squeeze bottle to knock them off.
  • Treat the remaining top and bottom of the leaves by rotating between organic insecticides like Bonide All Seasons Concentrate Horticultural Spray Oil or Bonide Captain Jack’s Insecticidal Super Soap.
  • Finally, companion planting is also a great way to reduce the work needed to manage Aphids.

Something is eating my plants as soon as they sprout!

Check your garden at night for Pill Bugs (Rollie Pollies) and put a small saucer of beer out for them. It will attract them away from your new growth, and when they fall in, they can’t get out.

A whole plant or a whole row was eaten overnight!

You most likely have a rodent problem. Set out some snap traps with peanut butter. You can also try RatX if that doesn’t work. Make sure to use surgical gloves when setting traps. Mice and rats can smell the oils on your hand and will stay away.

Habits are Small Steps to Build Mastery

Taking a few small steps daily can save you the frustration of watching your hard work go to another critter’s mouth. As the warmer months approach, remember to check regularly for signs of bugs in your lettuce and the rest of your garden!

And—this is important—if you discover any critters, act fast before they damage all that new spring growth.

What do you do in your garden to protect spring growth? Share your tips in the comments below.

Happy gardening!

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