Lettuce is one of the most popular vegetables in the world. After all, it has a great flavor and offers many nutrients and minerals to keep you healthy. Instead of spending more and more money buying lettuce yet with worse taste at the grocery store, why not harvest your own? Here, we’ll show you how to grow lettuce to ensure the freshest ingredients every time.
The first thing you need to do is to prepare the garden soil. Ideally, you should have a well-draining and loose soil. Soil cannot be heavy and dry since this will affect germination and the overall growth of the lettuce crops. Preparing the soil for planting lettuce by spring should be done as early as fall.
First, you must conduct sheet mulching before rainfall occurs. Get rid of any pesky weeds and thick foliage in the area where you want to grow your lettuce crops. Afterward, water the soil and put some pieces of cardboard on the soil surface. Apart from fending off weeds, cardboard also provides carbon to the soil. Kill two birds with one stone, right?
Place an inch-thick layer of lawn clippings and compost right above the cardboard layer. Remember not to use clippings that contain any seeds or weeds. On top of this layer of compost and lawn clippings, put a layer of mulch and irrigate the area. The mulch can be up to two inches in thickness and it can be composed of bark and leaves.
Sheet mulching takes place from fall up to early spring. After this long period, the temperature will become warm again and the soil will finally be dry. At this point, tilling the garden soil is essential. First, get your spade and dig a trench that’s at least one foot wide and six inches deep. This depth is enough so that the roots of your lettuce crops can grow and establish themselves in the soil.
Don’t discard the soil you’ve dug up. Instead, keep them in a wheelbarrow or any other sizable container. Next, get your garden fork and focus on the lowest part of the trench. Loosen the garden soil located there. Now, get a two-inch layer of compost and work it into the garden soil. After this, create another trench with the same dimensions.
Place the soil you’ve dug up from here into the first trench without turning it. This will preserve the soil structure even after being transported. Similar to the first trench, loosen the bottom section and apply some compost. Likewise, you can put the dug up soil from the first trench into the second one. A week before you plant the lettuce crops, try placing another layer of compost on the garden bed.
One mistake gardeners often make is to grow many lettuce plants in a small area. Improper allocation of space affects the capacity of the vegetable to fully grow. Thus, you must identify what variety of lettuce you have. For example, leaf lettuce plants must be just four inches apart while loose-headed varieties require at least eight inches. Furthermore, firm-headed lettuce crops should be 16 inches apart.
Lettuce seeds can be grown indoors with containers. Do this around a month before the last spring frost arrives. Transplanting them should occur either two weeks before or two weeks after the aforementioned frost. Still, we highly recommend sowing lettuce seeds directly in your garden. What’s important is that half an inch of soil covers them to protect them from extremely cold winds.
Sow the lettuce seeds in single rows with a width ranging from 12 inches to 15 inches. On a similar note, you can protect your lettuce crops from aphids if you grow chives or garlic plants between each row. Moreover, try sowing a new batch of lettuce weeds every couple of weeks. This significantly increases the number of crops you can harvest in the near future.
If you transplant them, irrigate the seedlings deeply during this period of transition. Likewise, apply some fertilizer three weeks after you’ve transplanted them. Use a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer and some compost to stimulate their growth.
It’s easy to know if your lettuce crops require some water. Leaves showing signs of wilting need irrigating. In fact, you can water the crops at any time of the day to cool them down. Also, apply a layer of organic mulch. Even a layer just two inches thick should help retain moisture and keep the soil cool even as the weather becomes warmer.
Harvesting lettuce is best done in the morning and when the crops have reached their largest size. However, get the outer leaves just before they become completely mature. These leaves are tender and perfect for your meals. Moreover, the crops will continue growing as long as the leaves at the center remain.
In conclusion, growing lettuce isn’t difficult. It should grow well as long as the soil has been prepared to become loose, fertile, and well-draining. Also, know when to irrigate and apply fertilizer. We hope that our guide will help you have a bountiful harvest. If you have any queries, do send us a comment.
With the endless passion for organic living, I - Ann Sanders has come up with the idea of creating A Green Hand. Being the founder and editor of A Green Hand, my goal is to provide everyone with a wide range of tips about healthy lifestyle with multiform categories including gardening, health & beauty, food recipe,...