How to Grow Lettuce in Your Garden – 7 Easy Steps
Home gardens are getting more and more popular these days, and it’s easy to see why.
The convenience of being able to run to your backyard for some fresh vegetables can’t be beat. The taste and the accessibility are so much better than getting vegetables from the grocery store, where you can’t be certain of the freshness and growing conditions.
One vegetable that is easy to grow at home is lettuce. This veggie is incredibly useful in dishes like salads and sandwiches, so you’ll definitely utilize the plants you have grown.
How to Grow Lettuce Yourself
Now you’re surely on board to grow some lettuce of your own, but you still need to know exactly how to do it. Let’s see how it’s done:
The first thing you need to do in order to grow lettuce is to of course plant it in your garden.
First, you’ll want to decide if you’d like to grow heads of lettuce or loose-leaf lettuce. Both are adequate, but the heads of lettuce are more aesthetically pleasing in rows in a garden. However, loose-leaf lettuce does harvest more quickly. It’s really all about personal preference.
Before you plant your lettuce, you will want to clear the garden area of any debris, trash, sticks, or hard clumps of dirt. Then rake the soil into an even surface.
It is now time to plant your seeds. Make sure you plant the seed three times as deep as the diameter of the seed. Lettuce seeds are of course very tiny, so they only need to planted about ¼ to a ½ inch deep into the soil.
You can use a seed sower to help control and evenly disperse the seeds. Be sure to mark and label where you have planted the seeds, so you know what they are even when they are buried underground.
You need to be able to identify your plants so you can care for them properly.
Now cover your seeds with the soil you pulled back in order to plant them. Finally, water your seeds and moisten the soil. Be careful not to drown or flood the seedlings.
Thin Out the Seedlings
Once your lettuce plants are about three inches tall, you will need to thin out the seedlings so they are six to eight inches apart and have optimal room to grow. Even though you may feel bad disposing of some of your seedlings, it is for the best because you do not want a crowded garden.
If you do not want to get rid of the extra seedlings, you can make them into a salad or plant them in a separate pot.
Keep it Watered
Like with most plants, if you want your lettuce to grow, you need to water it regularly.
You should be able to easily tell when it is time to water your growing lettuce. Just take a look. If the lettuce looks like it is shriveling and wilting, sprinkle the plant with some water. This can be done at any time of day.
When growing lettuce, be sure to water it deeply at least once a week. You will want to water the plant more during periods of hot weather or drought.
Also make sure the soil is retaining moisture while still being able to drain itself when needed. The soil should be kept moist pretty constantly in order for the lettuce to grow ideally.
Keep Insects Away
Now you know how to plant and take care of your lettuce, but you still need to protect it in order for it to grow.
Lettuce is a tasty treat for insects and mammals alike, so beware of pests trying to get after your growing lettuce plants.
Aphids, earwigs, and cutworms are some insects that may make it difficult for your plants to grow peacefully.
Aphids are little green bugs with soft bodies that multiply very quickly. This can make them a real nuisance to get rid of. It can also be tricky to know your lettuce plants are being targeted by aphids because the bugs are so incredibly tiny, and sometimes impossible to see with just the naked eye.
If you are worried aphids are coming after your lettuce, try simply spraying the plant with cold water. If this doesn’t work, neem oil or vegetable oil mixed with water and hand soap should do the trick.
You can also try dusting your plants with flour, because this will make the aphids sick and constipated.
If you want to keep pests like aphids away using other plants, try planting garlic and chives near your lettuce plants. These will repel the aphids with their unpleasant smell and taste.
Keep Rabbits Away
Larger animals may come after the lettuce you are trying to grow as well.
Rabbits are known for their proclivity for tasty crunchy vegetables, and these cute animals may in fact try to infest your garden. They especially like to go after young seedlings, so you do not have to worry as much about them once your plants are grown.
If you think a rabbit is preventing you from growing lettuce, there are ways to get rid of the critters. You will be able to see the damage they have done easily, because they will eat away at your plants and leave jagged, unsightly edges.
Keeping rabbits away is not too difficult. All you need to do is leave something around they do not like the smell of. Since rabbits sniff so much, if they catch a stench they do not like, they probably will not want to come back to your garden where your lettuce is growing.
Some things rabbits dislike are dried sulfur and onions, so you can try sprinkling the sulfur or planting onions near your lettuce. You can also dust your plants with plain talcum powder or powdered red pepper.
There are loads of options you can try in order to get rid of your rabbit problem. Surely you will find something that will keep the furry creatures away so your lettuce can grow strong and delicious.
Along with animals coming to attack the lettuce you grow, you also have to watch out for the spread of disease. Most common in lettuce is fungus, which may leave soft watery lesions on the leaves.
Fungus can also cause black spots to appear on your plants and leaves to wilt. The leaves may then collapse and lie on the soil surface, spreading the fungal matter into the ground.
Additionally, lettuce may be affected by powdery mildew, which leaves white moldlike spots or turns leaves yellow or brown. There is also downy mildew, which similarly shows up as yellowed leaves. This kind of mildew also brings along light green angular lesions and fluffy white growths on the underside of the leaves.
To prevent disease such as fungus and mildew, you can treat your lettuce plants by applying powdered sulfur.
Another way to prevent these diseases from harming your plants is to plant lettuce that will naturally be resistant to bacteria and fungi. You may also apply fungicides to keep your lettuce garden strong and healthy.
Disease can spread rapidly from plant to plant, so it is important to eradicate any sign of disease as soon as you see it.
Harvest and Enjoy Your Lettuce
You know how to grow lettuce, and you will surely be producing quality leaves of the stuff in no time! Now you just need to know how to harvest the lettuce you have grown.
Leaf lettuce is easily harvested by simply removing the outer leaves and allowing the inner leaves to continue to grow. Alternately, you can dig up the whole plant (this will have to be done eventually anyway). Either way, when you are picking the plant, try to do it in the morning before the sun has had a chance to hit it.
Once you have picked the lettuce, when it is young and tender and will taste the best, you need to store it properly. Just put the lettuce in a loose plastic bag in your refrigerator, and it should last nicely for up to ten days.
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How to Grow Lettuce – It’s Easy to Repeat Year After Year
Now you know how to plant lettuce, how to grow lettuce, and how to harvest lettuce. This whole process should be easy to repeat throughout the change in seasons. Soon you will have crisp, crunchy lettuce that you can proudly say you grew in your very own garden!