Monday, January 28, 2013

Growing Lettuce from Seed

Lettuce is a leafy vegetable that is grown annually in outdoor gardens, or containers.  Lettuce is mostly used for salads or as a garnish for a sandwich.  This nutritious vegetable is rich in vitamin A and potassium.   Lettuce can be grown indoors, outdoors in a garden bed or in a container.  If you plan on growing lettuce outdoors then provide your lettuce with a minimum of six hours of sun.

Instructions for Growing Lettuce

When to plant:

Plant lettuce in the spring; mid March for seeds and if you intend to grow seeds indoors and transplant outdoors then plant the seedlings in early April.  For your fall lettuce crop plant mid to late August for bib lettuce and July to August for romaine lettuce.

Sowing Seeds:

Plant lettuce seeds by sowing them in a prepared garden bed.  Set the seed on the soil and then use the eraser end of a pencil to push the seed ¼ inches into the soil.  Plant the seeds 15 inches apart.  Water well after all the seeds has been planted. 

Transplanting Seedlings:

Grow lettuce seedlings in rows in the garden bed; dig a hole that is as deep as the root.  Set the seedling in the hole and cover the root ball with dirt. Firm the soil around the stem.  Space the lettuce seedling 15 inches apart and water well.

Caring for Lettuce:

Keep newly planted lettuce seeds and transplants hydrated.  Do not let the soil dry out as it will cause stress on the plant.  It is best to keep the soil evenly moist by not wet.  Water lettuce plants in the morning.  Warning if you have heavy soil and over water the lettuce then it will rot. 

Harvesting Lettuce

Harvest the lettuce leaves in the morning before the sun is high in the sky.  I like to cut the lettuce heads early in the morning at the soil level.  I will harvest lettuce when the dew is still on the leaves.  I like to believe that this is when the lettuce is not under stress and the leaves have the best flavor.

For leaf lettuce I will cut off large leaves and leave the lettuce head intact.  That way it will continue to grow.  

Wash the lettuce to remove the dirt from the leaves.  If the leaves are damaged then remove these leaves from the head after the leaves are clean put in an air tight container and refrigerator before the leaves wilt.

Lettuce container garden
Lettuce Tips:

Type: Annual
Planting Depth: 1/4"
Thin to: 4"
Light: Sun
Days to germination: 10-15
Maturity: 45-50 Days

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Winter Garden Checklist

Late winter is a good time to start making plans for your yard and garden.  Use this time wisely; by making a checklist for all of your garden projects.  Some days in January and February may be warm and I like to use this time to  clean the gardens so they will be ready for planting in spring. Gardening in late winter helps to keep your yard and gardens organized.

In the past I was not for garden checklist.  Last year I did a garden checklist for the fall season and found that it was a good way to stay focused.  The checklist broke down all of the projects that needed to be done and I did not become overwhelmed with the work load.  

 A checklist tells you when to do the task and how to do it from cleaning up the garden beds, pruning the shrubs and sowing the seeds indoors.   

In late winter I make a point to watch the weather forecast.  If there is a warm day then I will plan my work day based on the project on my checklist.  By getting a head start in the yard and garden it enables me to enjoy my flower gardens when spring comes instead of doing cleanup work. 

Late Winter Garden Checklist:

  • Fertilize spring bulbs
  • Prune summer blooming perennial shrubs
  • Prune dormant deciduous vines, fruit and shade trees
  • Remove debris from the gardens and turn over the soil, get the gardens ready for planting
  • Plan my summer garden for vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers
  • Buy seeds and bare root fruit, roses, shrubs and vines
  • Start seeds indoors