Lettuce is one of those crops that can easily be damaged by insects. I would find that to be true, especially in the southern states.
There are a few tricks however, that I have found in growing greens organically. I hope to share a few with you and help keep you chemical free.You will find that I do not believe in any sort of pesticides or herbicides. Not even organic!!
The FIRST important step I've found is growing them in diverse conditions. What this means is simply forgetting all about nice tidy rows of lettuce. Instead introduce a whole lot of companion plants to let them grow with. The fun part about this is you can create a beautiful edible landscape in the process.
Radishes are truly a fantastic trap crop to grow along with your greens. What this means is that the insects will chew on your radish leaves instead of your lettuce, spinach and other greens in your garden. The best part about this is that you still get radishes too!
You will find that the addition of all kinds of different herbs growing in and around your lettuce is quite beneficial. One of my favorite herbs to grow with greens is Rosemary. I've even taken cuttings from Rosemary and sprinkled the needle like leaves throughout all the greens and cole crops. Laying the stems and sticks of Rosemary after you've pruned them will help ward off everything from aphids to cabbage loopers. Garlic and Onions are fabulous companions for all the greens as well!
You will find that lettuce grows very well with carrots too! The lettuce have very shallow roots and carrots are long. This works well for fitting more into your garden space as neither the lettuce or the carrots compete for nutrients in the soil.
Secondly, a whole lot of composting should be happening near the garden. Adding compost that is rich in organic matter will get all the greens growing rapidly and improve the texture and beneficial insects within the soil.
We have found that tilling is one of the worse things that one can do in an organic and natural garden. Layering constantly with compost and organic matter keeps all of the living organisms healthy and alive beneath the soil.
We raise chickens here as well. We add chicken manure directly into our compost bins to break down naturally. This can be done with most poultry and livestock manures. It is important though to be sure the animals are raised and fed organically as well.
Thirdly, mulching is imperative! We use a whole lot of hay, straw and mulched leaves. This helps keep the moisture in the ground as well as create healthy bacteria that will make your plants flourish. Again, we must be careful that the mulch we are using is grown organically. Many farmers pour the herbicides and chemical fertilizers to their hay fields. You don't want this to end up in your garden.
All that is left that's needed is sunshine, healthy soil and some rain.
Wishing you an abundant Harvest!