Thursday, April 19, 2012

How to Grow Lettuce

Name: Lettuce (includes Boston Lettuce, Iceberg Lettuce, and Romaine Lettuce)

*There are many lettuce varieties and they all grow differently. It is important to read the details on the packets of the specific type of lettuce you choose as well as know the general knowledge of the lettuce family.

*In order to grow lettuce in the summer, you need to either shade the plants or find heat-tolerant varieties. In hot climates, you may not be able to grow them in the summer, but only in the other 3 seasons. Heat makes the plant bolt, which makes their leaves taste bitter.

*Finding a spot for lettuce to grow is easy because you can harvest it soon after you plant. Thus, you can grow it in the spaces between slower-maturing crops such as cauliflower, peppers, and cabbage because you harvest the lettuce before the other crops get too big. In addition, it does not need full sun and actually appreciates shade, so that you can grow it by/between tomatoes, pole beans, corn, or cucumber plants and it won’t complain.

*The soil for lettuce should be rich, especially in nitrogen. You should till in well-rotted manure or compost to provide an airy, moisture-rich and nutrient-rich soil. Later on, give your plant either blood meal or fish emulsion to sustain the quick growth of lettuce plants. The ideal soil is a bit on the sandy side, but heavy soil is okay as well.

*Lettuce likes a soil that has been pulverized, in a similar manner as carrots, so you might follow an early lettuce crop with a carrot patch.

*The ideal pH is between 6.0-7.0.

*You can start lettuce indoors if you want a jumpstart on your harvest, especially if your lettuce variety cannot handle warm temperatures. To start indoors, sow as early as 10 weeks before the last frost date, and keep the flats cool (below 70 degrees) and moist. You should also harden them off for a few days outdoors. Then, set the young plants out in the garden as soon as the soil has thawed and dried out a bit. Space them about a foot apart.

*You can also sow the seeds directly into the garden. Try to space the seeds about ½ inch apart if possible. Thin the plants at 2 inches and then at approx. 6 inches. You can eat the plants you are thinning out. Make it so that after the second thinning, the remaining plants are about 1 foot apart. After sowing, cover the seeds with only a fine sprinkling of soil.

*A good idea is to plant new, small crops every 2 weeks in order to have a constant supply of lettuce.

*While the lettuce is growing, try to maintain a constant moisture. Again, a mulch will help with moisture as well as for keep down the weeds, keeping the lettuce clean, and warding off rotting diseases.

*If the plants seem limp (even after mulching), give the ground around the plants a good soaking. Lettuce that is well-watered also tastes less bitter.

*Lettuces are harvested in different ways, depending on the type. You can pick leaf lettuce from the outside, letting the inner leaves continue to grow, or you can crop the whole thing an inch about the soil and let it resprout. Heading types are usually cut whole, head by head as needed, but you can also pick these beginning with the outer leaves.

No comments:

Post a Comment