Growing Lettuce

Lettuce is an easy crop to grow that does well in containers.

Lettuce grows rather quickly. My favorite types are the loose leaf types and romaine because I can pick it as it grows, so it is ready sooner and always fresh.

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There is also head lettuce (such as iceberg), but you have to wait until it is ready and then cut the whole head.

Lettuce is a cool weather crop, meaning it grows best in the spring and the fall. It can also tolerate a light frost, although when it is very cold the growth slows down and picks up again when it warms. My lettuce survived temperatures to 29 degrees without protection this year (not on purpose).

The heat of the summer will make it become bitter and bolt (going to seed). You will recognize this as it will send up a tall shoot from the center of the plant. It will begin to taste bitter. Time to pull it out and plant something else, unless you want to wait to collect the seeds.

On warmer days in the spring and the fall you might want to give it a little shade to protect it from the heat.

Planting:

Starts seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Lettuce can also be planted out  a few weeks before the last frost.IMG_2299

It grows well in full sun/part shade. Plant seedlings about 6-8 in apart.

If you grew your seeds inside, always remember to harden them off for a week before planting them out. That goes for any plant. They need to be acclimated to the outdoors (wind, sun, etc) Place them outside a for a short time. Each day increase the time and sun exposure.

Growing:

Lettuce will do well if a light frost hits. Just throw a bag or sheet over it if the weather threatens a heavier frost (depending on how much you have). You might lose a leaf or two but the plant will survive and keep growing.

It needs well drained soil to avoid rot. However, it also needs constant moiIMG_2314.jpgsture as it will wilt quickly when it is dry.

Water in the morning (it’s feet only).

Fertilizer: 

Use organic nitrogen fertilizer, if necessary. Nitrogen enhances leaf growth.

Harvesting:

Harvest the outside leaves when large enough. The inside leaves will keep growing.

For dinner, I like to pick leaves that morning. Rinse them well. Soak the leaves in cold water, shake them off and place in a Tupperware or ziplock bag in refrigerator. Then, by dinnertime the leaves will be cold and crisp!

Pests:

I’ve never had a pest problem with lettuce. You might encounter some slugs, but they are usually pretty small and easy to pick off. Sprinkle some diatomaceous earth around, if slugs are a big problem. Also water in the morning, so your plants are dry by evening when slugs are most active.

 

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“Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” Matthew 15:11

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