Planting Your Own Lettuce
Lettuce is a great addition to your own home garden, especially for new gardeners. Lettuce is an easy to grow year-round vegetable that is very flexible in its needs. Additionally, growing it at home is a simple way to ensure that fresh greens are always around the house. Today we are covering the basics of how to properly plant your lettuce seeds or seedlings.
Lettuce is a very flexible plant in that it adapts well to most regions and a wide range of soils. It does best however, in sandy soils filled with organic matter. Specifically, lettuce grows well in soil pH between 6.0 to 7.0. The soil must be well-draining as lettuce does not like soggy soils.
Deciding Where to Grow
When growing inside, your lettuce will need a pot with good drainage and big enough for your lettuce to grow. Growing inside allows you to have better control and stability in temperature and lighting as your plants need.
Traditionally lettuce is grown outdoors. When outside, lettuce plants love the cool seasons of Spring and Autumn. Although lettuce grows fastest in full sun, it grows well in shaded areas. In fact, a spring crop often lasts longer if shaded from the afternoon sun.
Be sure whether using seeding or using transplants, to prepare your garden bed by tilling up to 10 inches deep and remaining any large rocks or stones.
How to Plant
Planting lettuce is not complicated when you know what to expect and account for.
Plant fall lettuce beginning about 4 to 8 weeks before the first frost. Depending on variety, make sure to space each plant between 6 and 18 inches. As a rule of thumb, you should space plants far enough apart so that they can grow to full size. When using a transplant, it is best to leave the plant outside for four to five days to give it space to accumulate to your garden temperature. A simple way to ensure proper rooting for your transplants is to use Rhizone, a root establishment product that encourages transplanted crops to flourish.
Seeded lettuce should be planted 10 to 12 inches apart in rows that are 18-24 inches apart. Or, if you don’t mind thinning, you can broadcast your seeds over the entire bed. As the seeds are very tiny, you do not need to plant them more than ¼ inches deep. To ensure success from your seeds, consider using a seed dip such as SeedUp.
Watering is especially important for productive growth. Shallow roots leave plants susceptible to water-related stress, so water frequently and to a depth of at least 6 inches. Remember, lettuce is sensitive to soggy soils. It is ideal to keep the bed moist but not waterlogged. Additionally, too much water can encourage disease. A layer of organic mulch will help to maintain soil moisture, protect roots, and prevent weeds.
If growing indoors, you may move it to a location where it can receive at least six hours of sunlight per day. In case your location has little sunlight, we recommend using compact fluorescent light bulbs (15W) positioned three inches away from your lettuce. When growing outdoors lettuce is very versatile and does well in both shade and full sun.
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