Easy Tips on Growing Lettuce Right in Your Backyard
Lettuce is an ancient crop that was enjoyed as far back as in the times of ancient Greece and Rome. Christopher Columbus was one of the explorer to bring lettuce over to America, where it has grown ever since. It is an easy crop for anyone to grow in their garden, even those that are just starting out. The best part is that most types of lettuce mature in under 2 months, so it’s possible to grow many harvests of crops throughout the year. There are a lot of different varieties of lettuce, which you can use in salads, sandwiches and even smoothies! Dr. Willard’s® will walk you through the seemingly easy process of growing lettuce, just follow the steps below:
Prepare Your Soil
It’s not advisable to simply plant lettuce in any location, as the quality of soil is very important to growing healthy and abundant crops. Consider building or purchasing a raised bed, which helps to warm up the soil, letting you plant earlier as well as later in the season. Lettuce can grow in temperatures as low as 40 degrees; however, it won’t grow in soil that is 80 degrees or warmer, so you will have to wait out the hot season and plant again in the fall. An alternative to waiting out the summer is planting tall crops next to the lettuce to provide shade.
Choose sandy loam soil if possible, but lettuce can grow in other types, as well. Choose soil that drains well, but is also moisture-retaining. The optimal pH level for growing lettuce is 6.0 to 6.8. Add organic matter, such as nitrogen and potassium by composting, adding leaves or manure into the soil.
Add Fertilizer and PlantCatalyst®
You can add nitrogen-based fertilizer into the soil before planting, and while the lettuce grows at least once during the season. Did you know that many traditional fertilizers are made up of toxic ingredients that can harm our health and the surrounding environment? Many studies have linked fertilizer use with serious, life-threatening concerns for children, adults and even pets. Furthermore, fertilizer runoff hurts wildlife, pollutes bodies of water and depletes our natural resources.
Here at PlantCatalyst®, we take pride in creating products to promote health for all living beings. Our agricultural formula, PlantCatalyst®, is used to cut the use of fertilizer by up to 50 percent! Not only does this save more money for you, but it also helps your food to grow more nutritious as fertilizer depletes the vitamins in fruits and vegetables.
PlantCatalyst® is made from all natural ingredients and contains no toxins! It can help your lettuce be ready to harvest earlier than usual, grow healthier, have stronger roots, and be more abundant!
Start Seeds Indoors
You can start lettuce seeds indoors if you want to get a headstart before the last frost, or plant them right in your garden. To start indoors, make sure they have ample sunlight or are under artificial lighting. Move them outside in the springtime, protecting them with row covers should the weather cool down again.
When you plant lettuce outside, make sure to read the directions for the type you are planting, as mature lettuce varieties need different amounts of space. Loose-leaf lettuce rows should be planted at least 6 inches apart, with seeds 1 inch apart in a line. Full-head lettuces should be planted in rows that are at least 12 inches apart.
All you need to do when planting is to tamp the lettuce down and water it well. Utilize a drip irrigation system, or water moderately at least once a week, or more if there is a drought or hot weather. Lettuce generally starts to sprout after one week.
Practice Succession Planting
Mature lettuce starts to taste bitter, which is why it is recommended to sow seeds every two weeks. To grow lettuce all season long, plant early season types first, followed by those that tolerate heat, and then fall varieties later in the season.
As long as the temperature doesn’t drop down too low or get too high, your lettuce should mature in as little as a month, with some varieties taking up to 2 months. Harvest loose-leafs and headers in the early AM, such as 7AM, and harvest baby greens in the evening to promote sweetness.
Lettuce can wilt in as little as 15 minutes, so bring it indoors immediately after harvesting and wash it with cold water before eating or putting in the refrigerator. As long as you leave about an inch of the lettuce plant, you will be able to harvest at least two or three more times in a few weeks.