(Growing varieties of Lettuce in your own garden)
Do you love salad? If yes, then you might love to read this article.
So, why purchase lettuce in grocery stores when you can easily grow them at home?
There’s nothing quite like the taste of freshly picked lettuce, straight from your garden. Lettuce is cool-season crop that grows well in the spring and fall in most regions.
Salad lovers can select from a wide variety of lettuces that are very easy to grow, highly productive in even limited spaces, and of course virtually pest and disease free.
This green veggie is definitely one of the most carefree crops out there, and growing them in the safety of your home will allow you to reap a huge variety of fresh, crispy homegrown lettuce all year-round.
(Growing Lettuce in your very own garden)
Growing lettuce at homes is practiced all over the world. Since it is available all around the year and among all indoor vegetables, lettuce is much easier and will give you a good supply of fresh and crispy lettuce throughout.
Lettuce thrives in room temperature conditions with direct sunlight and it adapts well to indoor conditions and can survive with basic care.
Even if you've never grown a plant indoors before, all you need is standard potting soil, water, fertilizer, and a grow light or sunny window to help your lettuce grow strong. Learn more here: How to Grow Lettuce Indoors.
And, a month after planting, your lettuce plant will be ready to harvest!
Just like any other vegetable crops, this delicious green leafy veggie starts with the soil. Lettuce does best in sandy loam soil with a high level of moisture-retaining organic matter, but don’t be discouraged if you don’t have those conditions.
Lettuce grows all around the world in all types of climates and soils, including your own.There’s really no ideal climate for all lettuce types, but most of them grow best in a cool weather, and they can be planted as soon as you can work the soil.
A pot with a good drainage is very ideal for lettuce planting. Whether it’s in your backyard garden or just in your windowsills anywhere would be okay.
Your chosen location must also be a safe one. Pick a spot that is away from active heat sources and cold drafts, and inaccessible to mischievous, hungry pets.
(Simple steps in growing a Lettuce garden in your Home)
Growing lettuce is really fun and people, most especially those with a green thumb can select from a wide variety of lettuces that are very easy to grow.
There are four types of lettuce that are very common and easily grown indoors.
Variety includes: iceberg, butter head, loose-leaf and romaine.
The type you are going to grow is properly mentioned on seed packets easily available in the market. Keep in mind that there is a variety in lettuce that grows only in small size. If you want to grow that type, choose a seed packet mentioned with “baby seeds”. See also: Basic Indoor Gardening.
Romaine is a variety of lettuce that grows in a tall head of sturdy dark green leaves with firm ribs down their centers.
Unlike most lettuces, it is tolerant of heat and is more nutritious than iceberg lettuce. It is rich in vitamin A and beta-carotenes and has antioxidant properties.
Romaine lettuce is also a good source of vitamin K that plays a big role in bone metabolism, by promoting osteoplastic activity in the bone cells and helps increase bone mass.
Butterhead lettuces have soft, buttery-textured leaves that form very loose "heads".
Also known as Boston or Bibb, Butterhead lettuce has a very delicate texture resulting in exquisite salads, and bestows a certain silky elegance to sandwiches.
They boast a mild, sweet and succulent flavor. In the garden, the small heads are loosely folded and range in color from pale green to purple-red.
The unique textures and colors of our Butterhead Lettuce varieties are highly prized by gourmet cooks.
Loose leaf lettuce is one of the simplest lettuces to grow in home gardens and the type grown by most home gardeners.
Loose leaf lettuce varieties are those lettuces that do not form a compact head.
Their flavor tends to be mild and sweet.
There are many varieties of loose-leaf lettuce and they differ in hue, flavor, and texture and leaf shape.
Iceberg lettuce is said to be one of the most “useless” vegetables in the culinary world and is probably because, compared to other varieties of lettuce, iceberg has a lower nutritional content.
But to believe that it’s as useless as eating cardboard simply robs you off the nutritional benefits that it can actually offer you.
Its name, “iceberg,” came from the fact that it was often sent to other states and areas in trucks filled with large amounts of ice to preserve it.
This Variety of lettuce also contains a good amount of vitamin A and C. It also contains a considerable amount of foliate, a mineral that is essential for preventing birth defects and other prenatal conditions.
When planting lettuces in your home, you will need certain things, and the first thing you’ll ever need of course is the lettuce seeds, and the next will be your soil and the pot.
Flat, fairly shallow garden boxes with good drainage are ideal.
You also have other options such as shallow clay pots which you can put in plant shelves or on your windowsills.
For the soil, choose a planting mix that's made for seed starting, such as Seed Starting Mix (like this: Miracle-Gro 7.6l Seed Starting Potting Mix -amazon).
Avoid using garden soil or potting soil, which is often too coarse for seed starting.
Dampen the soil to prepare it for planting, then fill your garden boxes or pots with about 3-4" of prepared mix.
Scatter seeds on top of the mix or arrange seeds in rows, trying to keep them about an inch apart. Cover the seeds in a very thin layer of planting mix. If you're using a multi-cell seed starting system, plant three or four seeds in each cell.
Limit your seeds to 4 per pot to avoid overcrowding the lettuce as it grows. If you want to plant more than 4 seeds, prepare several pots ahead of time. Just use a spray bottle in watering them to avoid washing the seeds away.
If you lack patience, and don’t want to wait for seeds to sprout, you can plant lettuce seedlings instead.
Use the same technique as you would for lettuce seedlings, planting no more than 4 per pot. You can buy these lettuce seedlings in plant nurseries and garden centers.
Lettuces are delicate and require extra attention when grown indoors.
Your seedlings should look green and robust, and just like any other vegetable crops, lettuce also needs daily watering.
Lettuce is made up of 90% water and has shallow roots, so water as often as needed to keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy.
When growing lettuce indoors, in a warm, dry house, they may need watered every couple days.
For seedlings, it's best to water from the bottom, using a watering tray. You can also visit: Hydroponics:Alternative Methods for Gardeners
Monitor the moisture level to make sure your seedlings are moist but not waterlogged.
A seed-starting system with a wicking mat and a water reservoir makes it easy to keep your lettuce watered.
When they grow their "true" (second set of) leaves. Pull out seedlings to allow 3 in space between every plant to give them room to grow.
You'll get an abundance of leaf growth by giving seedlings a light feeding (fertilizing).
Start giving them fertilizers after the first true leaves appear.
Use a fertilizer solution at half-strength, once a week for three weeks.
Fish emulsion or other organic fertilizer (see also: Jobe’s Organics All Purpose Fertilizer -amazon) is good for growing lettuce indoors.
Avoid getting any fertilizer on the leaves.
On the average, lettuce takes about 30 to 45 days to mature after you plant the seeds.
Make a note on your calendar to begin harvesting after about 30 days has passed.
Indoor lettuce plants grow and mature continually, so you can continue harvesting your plant after you've picked it for the first time.
Matured lettuce usually grows up to 4 inches tall.
Always remember to harvest your lettuce early in the morning because it is when your plant's most hydrated and at its strongest time.
If possible, harvest your plant before the late morning or afternoon to achieve a healthier yield. Avoid mid-to-late afternoon harvesting, which is when your plant's least hydrated.
Regardless of when you harvest lettuce, its tender leaves demand careful handling.
Harvested greens left in the late spring sun can start to wilt in just 15 minutes, so quickly get them out of the garden and into a cool, moist (but not wet) spot.
Lettuce is perishable so, cut only what you need. Starting with the outer leaves first, trim each leaf at the plant's base, about an inch from the soil.Leave the remaining leaves to grow again for a few days longer.
When you are finished harvesting,you can plant another set of seeds.
(How to keep Lettuce fresh)
Lettuce has a shorter shelf life than most vegetables, especially the tender butterhead lettuce variety.
It stays in best condition in a humid, cold environment with minimal air circulation.
Depending on the variety, lettuce can last anywhere between 3-10 days in the refrigerator.
Check how long your specific variety lasts for.
Iceberg, romaine, and other lettuce with a stiff core last longer when their core is removed.
Cut out the core with a knife, or just pound the stem against a cutting board firmly, then twist the stem to remove the core by hand.
Avoid this step if your lettuce is butterhead, or any other lettuce with loose, tender leaves.
Wrap the head of lettuce, or loose leaves in single layers between two soft, absorbent paper towels.
These paper towels will absorb excess water but keep the lettuce in the moist conditions it prefers.
If your lettuce feels dry, dampen the paper towels and If they are wet enough to soak the towels, squeeze them out and wrap the lettuce again in the same, moist paper towels.
Store lettuce in a plastic container (Such as zip-locked bag, a hard plastic container, or even a salad spinner).
If using a bag, press out some of the air before sealing, without bruising the leaves.
If you’re using a hard container, fill it at least halfway with leaves.
The more air in the container, the faster you'll get brown edges.
But if you press out all the air and seal the container completely, it may develop off flavors due to poor respiration.
Leaving a little air or cracking the container slightly may be a better idea, especially with leaf lettuce or a fridge that's on the warm side.
Crisper drawer is the coldest part of your fridge, which is ideal for leafy greens.
Most grocery store lettuce should last 3-7 days here, depending on freshness, while iceberg may last up to two weeks.
Homegrown lettuce or from farm stand may even last longer.
Avoid storing your lettuce with fruits such as apples and pears, because they release ethylene gas which can cause spoilage.
If there’s excess water from your container, lower your fridge's humidity settings or you ever see ice or some kind of frost in the crisper drawer or on the leaves, raise your fridge's temperature.
Growing Lettuce in your own garden is a fun and exciting thing to do. Even though it may take up most of your time taking care of them from seedlings until they are mature enough to be picked, all these efforts really won’t go to waste and everything you have done will all be worth it. Just think about all the benefits you could get from them and the lush and fresh feeling they give to your garden. So, why not start your own lettuce garden now. See also: Little Big Garden