Lettuce is one of the most popular vegetables in culinary arts and is used in salads and several other dishes. Hence, wouldn’t it be great if you could simply harvest one from your own garden? This will ensure the freshness of the lettuce while also saving you cost from having to buy them off the grocer.
Varieties of Lettuce
There are four basic varieties of lettuce and it is important to recognize each one of them since it requires different growing conditions. Each one are listed and described briefly below:
*Butterhead: This variety of lettuce possesses a creamy center to it. It also has a milder flavor as compared to other varieties but takes a lot more time to mature. This is the type of lettuce often used in making salads.
*Romaine: This variety comes with crunchy leaves and is characterized by its upright cluster of leaves. It takes between 70 to 85 days in order for this variety of lettuce to fully mature. Like the butterhead, this is also popular ingredient for salads.
*Crisphead: This is another familiar variety and requires cool weather for growing. Of all varieties of lettuce, this one takes the most time to grow and requires specific conditions. You know when its ready if the outer leaves possess a yellowish green color.
*Leaf Lettuce: This one requires less restriction in order to grow fully well. Unlike the romaine lettuce, this one comes with loose bunches of leaves. It is most suitable in warm weather.
Summer is the best time to grow lettuce because of the rich, humous-laden soil quality. The ideal soil condition is at pH 6.5, so you can test the soil before growing the lettuce to produce a better quality lettuce. It is often grown alongside other slow growing plants, such as broccoli or brussel sprouts. Since lettuce thrives in moist conditions, make sure to regularly water the lettuce to moisten up the soil.
There are also different varieties of lettuce according to the season in which it is grown:
*Summer varieties – This refer to lettuce plants that are grown under hot conditions. However, make sure you choose an area for growing lettuce that is well-shaded.
*Spring lettuce – This is more challenging to grow than the summer varities. If you are living in a mild area, make sure to sow the lettuce seeds in an area that gets adequate amount of sunlight. Make sure to have proper drainage to the soil surrounding your lettuce plants.
Process of Sowing Seeds
An important thing to take note when sowing lettuce seeds is to sow at the position where you intend to grow them. Avoid moving lettuce plants, when possible. You can plant these seeds at seed beds or boxes, ideally 2.5cm above the ground.
Observe proper distance between plants, roughly around 8-16 inches apart. This will provide enough room for each plant to grow without any disruption.
Take note of the following information to avoid harvesting lettuce immaturely:
*Expected germination time for lettuce: For hot weather conditions, it can happen around 6 to 12 days.
*Time between sowing and harvesting: It depends on the variety of lettuce you are trying to grow. For butter or crisphead lettuce, they take the longest amount of time from 8 to 14 weeks. For looseleaf varieties, it takes about 6 to 8 weeks in order to be ready for harvest.
Other Growing Tips for Lettuce
Additional information when caring for your lettuce plants to ensure they grow healthy:
- Moist soil is important in allowing the lettuce plant to grow fast and healthy. Therefore, make sure to water regularly. The best time for watering your lettuce plants is during the morning or midday. Watering at night can increase the risk of your plant developing diseases.
- In order for the lettuce seeds to germinate, temperature must not exceed 80 degrees. If you are sowing during summer, make sure to employ proper shading devices on your plant bed. Or better yet, find a cool spot indoors to grow your lettuce.