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Growing Lettuce

June 14, 2013 - GrowOrganic
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It seems unfair—just when we really need lettuce as the foundation of a summer salad, the lettuce wants to pack up and spend its summer at Lake Tahoe (or some other cool spot). Here’s how you can have your lettuce and heat it too. Horses bolt and so does lettuce Lettuce prefers the cool days of spring and fall with air temperatures in the 60s. When the weather warms up lettuce will often bolt right out of your garden bed. In the world of lettuce, bolting means that the plant sets a flower…
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Video Transcript
Hi I'm Tricia an organic gardener. I grow organically for a healthy and safe food supply for a clean and sustainable environment for an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Lettuces and greens are some of the easiest greens to grow and best of all you can plant them before summer cops like tomatoes and then you can plant them after the tomatoes are finished. These are the four main types of lettuces in order from easiest to grow to hardest to grow: loose leaf cos or romaine butter head or bibb and crisphead like an iceberg. I want my butter head and my romaine to get off to a good start so I'm going to start those in trays in the greenhouse. Start your lettuces and greens in trays about four weeks before you wanna transplant outside into the garden and they like daytime temperatures between forty five and sixty five degrees. Plant your transplants or sow your seed atleast a month before the hot weather of summer sets in. I'm sowing a few seeds into each cell cover lightly with soil about a quarter of an inch deep for the lettuce and about a half an inch deep for the greens make sure and keep the seeds evenly moist. While my seeds are germinating and growing inside the greenhouse I'm going to prepare my lettuce bed. Lettuces like full sun except in the summertime and if you're in a hot climate you probably gonna need some shade. Lettuces like a pH of six to six point eight it does not tolerate a pH lower than six point zero so you may want to do a pH test on your lettuce bed. Work in a nice balanced vegetable fertilizer into the top three inches of soil and any lime you might need to raise the pH. Loose leaf lettuce is one of the easiest to grow so I'm going to seed it directly into the garden bed this is called direct sowing. Greens like arugula, mash, mustard and tatsoi have the same cultural requirements as loose leaf lettuce so if you're growing greens or a mix follow the same steps. Make sure you have a level and cleaned seed bed lettuce is a small seed and large clods in the soil will not give you good seed to soil contact and it can reduce your germination rates. You can succession seed lettuce every ten to fourteen days and that way you'll get a continuous supply. When it comes to direct seeding loose leaf lettuce there's a couple ways you can do it. You can sow it a patch and harvest it young patches like this are great for seed mixes like our mesclun mix or our gourmet lettuce blend. You can also sow it in rows space your rows to about eight inches to twelve inches apart according to the instructions on the seed pack the planting depth should be about a quarter inch to half an inch. Water your newly planted seeds and keep the bed evenly moist lettuces like frequent light watering. Now that my seedlings have sprouted it's time to thin to the strongest seedlings and i'm using these snips because I can thin without disturbing the soil. Slugs snails and earwigs are the major pest of lettuce in addition to hand picking we carry traps and organic pesticides to help you deal with these crawleys. It's time to harvest the lettuce harvest early in the morning when the turgor pressure is at its highest that way the leaves will stay crisp. Turgor pressure is like blood pressure for plants. For your row grown leaf lettuce just break up the outside leaves and allow the center to grow more. After about thirty or forty five days you can harvest your patch of loose leaf lettuce. Using a lettuce knife or scissors simply snip the leaves off a couple inches above the soil. You can usually get to three harvests like this. For the romaine or bibb lettuces harvest the whole plant when it is mature These usually take forty to fifty days to grow. Lettuce is an easy and satisfying crop to grow so grow your own salad and grow organic for life.

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