Growing Lettuce from Seed to Harvest Posted on 29 Aug 09:02 , 0 comments
I've written quite a few articles about food prices and growing your own food.
First, I wrote Food Prices are on the Rise , then I wrote In Times of Uncertainty, Grow & Save and a follow-up Food Prices Continue to Rise. These articles explain why it is so important to start growing your own food. Even if it's just a salad garden, there is something for everyone. So let's get started on started on growing Lettuce!
Plant seeds 1/4 inch deep in moist soil. It is best to sow lettuce or spinach seeds thinly in rows spaced about 1 ft. apart or simply scatter the seeds in blocks. Cover lightly with soil, firm in place and water well. Keep the soil moist until germination. Once the plants have a grown their true leaves, you can begin to thin the plants to about 6" apart.
Start lettuce or spinach indoors or direct seeded in the garden as soon as the soil is workable. Great for container gardens.
Depending on the type of lettuce, harvest outer leaves only or cut down the whole head. Succession planting can dramatically increase yields, especially in smaller areas. Succession planting is when you stagger plantings in the same area throughout the season. Each time a crop is finished you pull it and plant a new one.
Lettuce and spinach are great options for cold frames if you're growing in a cooler climate. Fertilize 3 weeks after transplanting. Lettuce prefers soil that is high in humus, with plenty of compost and a steady supply of nitrogen to keep if growing fast. Alfalfa Meal or Alfalfa Meal Tea works well for Growing Greens.
Spinach can be harvested in the cut and come again method of harvesting lettuce. Cut individual leaves, starting with the older, outer leaves, and letting the young inner leaves remain and continue growing for a later harvest. You can also cut down the whole plant, for a larger harvest.
Companion Plants for GREENS
Lettuce: Does well with beets, broccoli, bush beans, pole beans, carrots, cucumbers, onion, radish and strawberries. It grows happily in the shade under young sunflowers. Dill and lettuce are a perfect pair. Keep lettuce away from cabbage. Cabbage is a deterrent to the growth and flavor of lettuce.
Spinach: Plant with peas and beans as they provide natural shade for the spinach. Gets along with cabbage, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, onion, peas, strawberries and fava bean. Plant spinach with squash. It's a good use of space because by the time squash plants start to get big the spinach is ready to bolt.
TIPS for growing GREENS
-Make sure soil remains moist but is well drained.
- You should be able to sow additional seeds every two weeks for a continuous harvest throughout the growing season
- Consider planting rows of chives or garlic between your lettuce to control aphids. They act as “barrier plants” for the lettuce
-Lettuce will tell you when it needs water. Just look at it. If the leaves are wilting, sprinkle them anytime—even in the heat of the day—to cool them off and slow down the transpiration rate.
-Weed by hand if necessary, but be careful of plant roots: They are shallow.
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