Sowing your own lettuce
Lettuce is one of our favourite garden vegetables and of course, your own home-grown lettuce tastes so much better than the store-bought “stuff, plus home-grown lettuce contains much more nutrients, mainly vitamin A. Lettuce is the base of many salads, it is served as a side dish, or even as a main course. The only disadvantage is that lettuce cannot be stored for long – it fades quickly. But we shall all agree that no summer table is complete without it.
When to sow
Lettuce can be sown as soon as the last frosts are gone… From then on you can sow it regularly (for example every two weeks), over and over again if you want to enjoy a gradual harvest. Lettuce can handle medium cold weather rather well – you can sow it when the soil temperature exceeds 4.5 °C but seeds germinate best when the temperature ranges from 13 to 18 °C. In that case they should germinate from 7 to 10 days. Because lettuce grows rather quickly, sow a small amount at a time and then repeat…
Where to plant
Choose a sunny spot (direct sowing, but you may also pre-grow lettuce at home). The soil should be well permeable and fertile. A good idea is to work in a layer of compost before sowing. Since lettuce seeds are very small, prepare the substrate well – any pebbles, stones or large lumps could slow down or prevent germination. If you plant to grow lettuce next year again, change the spot to avoid diseases.
How to sow
Sow seeds in 0.5 to 1 centimetre deep rows and cover them with soil and water sufficiently. In about three weeks, you can fertilize. Lettuce does well in a soil which contains plenty of organic matter and lots of compost. It also needs a steady supply of nitrogen to sustain growth.
When the plants show 3 to 4 true leaves, you need to thin the row. If you have pre-grown seeds you can transplant them outside when they have a well-developed root system (usually the plants have 4 to 6 mature leaves). Plant pre-grown lettuce 24 to 30 centimetres apart.
Caring for your lettuce
The soil should be moist, but no water puddles. Lettuce will tell you when it needs water – the leaves start to wither. When you see faded leaves, you need to water and you may do so at any time, even if the weather is hot. This will actually cool the lettuce down and make it last longer. You can also use compost as it will conserve moisture, suppress weeds and keep soil temperatures down during warmer months.Make sure to pull out weeds – by hand if necessary and when you do, be careful not to damage the roots, as roots are very shallow.
- If you want to prevent aphids from feasting on your lettuce, sow chives or garlic between your lettuce. They act as “barrier”.
- Do not sow lettuce near tall plants, such as tomatoes or corn. Shade is not good for lettuce.
- If you want a continuous harvest, sow every two weeks.
Preview photo: Pixabay
Gardening is my hobby, I have a lot of experience and I am happy to share it.