Which do you prefer, curly lettuce or lettuce? Whichever variety you prefer, lettuce is a hardy plant and can thrive in almost any place. Start by planting the seeds indoors, then plant the seeds before the first frost (if you live in a country with 4 seasons). If you're lucky, you can make a salad using your own lettuce. Read on for this article to learn how to grow lettuce.
Method 1 of 2: Growing Bokor Lettuce
Step 1. Choose a variety of bokor lettuce if you want to grow it indoors
Bokor lettuce requires a longer ripening time. If you start by planting seeds indoors, the plants will benefit from being planted earlier and thus having a longer growing season. The famous bokor lettuce are romaine and iceberg types.
- Skip to this step if you want to grow curly lettuce.
- If you plant them in late spring or summer (if you live in a country with 4 seasons), you may want to choose a heat-tolerant variety, such as Jericho. This is especially important if you live in an area with a hot climate.
Step 2. Prepare the nursery container
You can plant lettuce seeds in factory-made nursery containers or make your own from egg cartons, boxes, or newsprint. Fill the nursery container with planting media without soil until it leaves about 1 cm from the top edge of the container. Wet the planting medium in preparation for planting seeds.
- The seeds already contain the nutrients needed to germinate so you can plant them in soilless media. Planting media for this nursery can be purchased at the store or made yourself by mixing vermiculite, pearlite, and sphagnum moss in equal proportions.
- After sprouting, the lettuce seeds will be transferred to the ground so you don't need to use a fancy nursery container for this.
Step 3. Plant the lettuce seeds about 4-6 weeks before the last spring frost (in a country with 4 seasons)
This way the lettuce seeds have time to germinate and germinate so you can plant them outdoors in unsettled soil. Spread the lettuce seeds evenly in the nursery container. Use your fingers to press the lettuce seeds into the planting medium.
Step 4. Give the seeds plenty of sun and water
Place the nursery container in a sunny window and keep the growing medium moist. Lettuce seeds may not be able to grow if the growing medium dries up.
- You can cover the nursery with a few sheets of newspaper for the first week or so until the seeds germinate. Keep the newsprint moist, and remove the newsprint when the seeds have sprouted.
- Do not over-water the seeds. Waterlogged planting media can prevent lettuce seeds from growing.
Step 5. Transfer the seedlings to the garden
In a country with 4 seasons, the earliest time to transplant seedlings is 2 weeks before the last spring frost. Make lots of holes about 40 cm apart, deep enough to plant a lettuce root ball. Remove the lettuce seeds from the nursery container, then insert them into the planting hole. Gently pat the soil around the lettuce stalks so the seedlings can stand upright. Plant the lettuce seeds to the same depth as in the nursery. Water the lettuce seeds thoroughly.
- For best results, first "harden" the lettuce seedlings by placing the seedbed outdoors partially sheltered. Do this for 2 or 3 days, increasing the time each day.
- You can let the lettuce seedlings continue to grow indoors, and move them outdoors when the growing season arrives. Choose a heat-resistant variety of lettuce if you want to grow it in the summer.
- Use a sprinkler or a hose with a diffuser spray nozzle (can spread gently) to water the lettuce garden. Don't over-water, make sure you're just keeping the soil moist.
Step 6. Fertilize the lettuce about 3 weeks after planting
Use alfalfa flour or a slow release fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. This makes the lettuce grow strong and fast.
Step 7. Cut the mature lettuce leaves
When the leaves are mature enough to eat (similar to leaves on display at a greengrocer), use scissors or a knife to cut them. A few weeks later, when the plant has matured, you will need to remove all parts of the plant from the soil. Lettuce will eventually rot if left alone.
- Harvest the leaves in the morning. The lettuce leaves will be crispy at night, and will keep them until the morning.
- See How to Harvest Romaine Lettuce if you want to harvest this type of lettuce.
- Lettuce begins to "roll up" in the heat at the end of the growing season. The plant will start producing seeds and the taste will become bitter. Prevent this from happening by picking the center of the plant. When the lettuce has curled up, just remove the plant.
Step 8. Store the lettuce you harvest in the refrigerator
If you don't want to eat it right away, you can save it. If you put it in a plastic bag with a few paper towels, lettuce can keep for up to 10 days.
Method 2 of 2: Growing Curly Lettuce
Step 1. Choose curly lettuce that is resistant to growing outdoors
Curly lettuce cultivars are brightly colored with nutrient-rich leaves, which are often sold in the form of "mixed vegetables." This lettuce is resistant to hot temperatures and has a shorter growing age than other varieties so it is generally planted directly in the garden.
- Bokor lettuce is usually grown indoors.
- Hot weather will trigger the lettuce to "roll up", make the leaves stop growing, and develop a bitter taste. If the weather is hot, plant lettuce as soon as possible or choose a heat-tolerant variety.
Step 2. Prepare the beds for planting
You should plant lettuce right after the soil is prepared. Choose a garden area that has good drainage and gets lots of sun. Use a hoe or shovel to loosen the soil and remove rocks, twigs, and roots that are on the ground.
- Although strong, lettuce does not grow well in certain conditions. Make sure the garden soil is rich in nitrogen and not too wet.
- Also make sure that the soil is rich in humus. Consult an agricultural extension worker to find out how to fertilize the soil in your area so that you can grow lettuce.
Step 3. Fertilize your garden beds
Mix compost or balanced fertilizer into the beds at least 1 week before planting. Although optional, you can also apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer to the plant after about 3 weeks, when the leaves are 10 cm wide.
Step 4. Sow the seeds
Lettuce is a cold hardy plant so you can plant it directly in the field about 2 weeks before the last spring frost (in a country with 4 seasons), or up to 6 weeks in advance if you install a frame or cold cover. Spread the lettuce seeds on the tilled soil, then cover it with soil about 1 cm thick. One package of seeds can usually be spread over an area of 30 meters. Water the planting bed thoroughly after you sow the lettuce seeds.
Gradually plant lettuce every 1 or 2 weeks so you can harvest it throughout the season. Remember, most lettuce doesn't grow well in hot temperatures so the exact planting time will depend on the climate and the type of lettuce cultivar you're growing. For best results, choose a heat-resistant lettuce or plant it in a shady location
Step 5. Water the lettuce regularly
If the leaves look wilted, you should water them. Spray the lettuce with a small amount of water daily, and water it if the leaves look wilted.
Step 6. Harvest the mature leaves
When harvesting curly lettuce, use a knife or shears to remove mature leaves without damaging the plant. You can start doing this when the lettuce has reached the size that is sold in the market. Harvest the entire plant when it is a few weeks old. Otherwise, the plant will turn bitter and start producing seeds.
- For maximum leaf crispness, harvest lettuce in the morning.
- You can prolong the harvest by picking the center of the plant.
- Lettuce can last up to 10 days if stored in the refrigerator. However, first you have to put it in a plastic bag along with a few sheets of tissue.
- So that you can enjoy the lettuce continuously, plant a new row of lettuce each week.
- Always step around planting area, especially if you are using an earthen bed. Lettuce requires loose soil and good area. If the planting area is often stepped on, the soil will compact so that plant growth will be disrupted.
- You can also place a label on the lettuce planting area, which says when it was planted.
- For an interesting variation, mix different types and colors of lettuce seeds in a bowl, then spread them evenly. This will produce mixed lettuce that can be harvested as early as 4 weeks after planting to make a soft and attractive salad.
- If you are growing lettuce more than 30 meters straight at a time, this method can be difficult and inefficient. On a large scale, it might be a good idea to purchase a seed sowing machine so you can perform all the steps in this article in less time and without wasting a lot of effort.
- To make it easier for you to handle and plant seeds, choose lettuce seeds that are already in the form of pellets (the seeds have been coated with clay).
- If you live in a cold area, you can plant lettuce at the end of the growing season. Lettuce is usually better grown in a cold environment. So lettuce shouldn't be a problem as long as it's ready to be harvested before the deadly frost arrives (in a country with 4 seasons). You can even make a protective frame if you want to grow lettuce in winter.
- Always wash lettuce before you eat it, especially if you use insecticides or chemical fertilizers. We recommend that you do not use a product like this, and replace it with another way. For example by weeding weeds regularly, removing insects by hand, and fertilizing plants with compost and manure. The soil will benefit, and you can stay healthy.
- Don't forget to get rid of grass and weeds. Otherwise, you may find unwanted green leaves in the salads you eat.