Growing lettuces is the perfect way for a new gardener to start learning how to grow plants. Lettuces are so easy to grow if you are living in an apartment too. I like to see several contrasting lettuces with different colours, shapes and textures growing together in one pot
It is a fantastic feeling to be growing lettuces and to be able to pick lettuce just outside your door by having a GreenSmart Pot close to the kitchen with a ready to use selection of several types lettuces and herbs. They are perfect for inner city apartment living.
Butterhead lettuce which is a heading variety with a loose arrangement of leaves .eg Boston. Crisphead lettuces which produce large hearts of curled and crisp crunchy leaves. Eg Iceberg type Cos (or Romaine) lettuce which have upright growth and an oblong head. Cos is hard to beat for crunch, colour and hardiness. Simply pick off the outer leaves and more will grow. Loose leaf lettuce – pick a few leaves at a time. They can be grown through most of the year. This is the perfect vegetable for a novice gardener to start with.
Green Smart Pots are particularly suited to lettuces as lettuces love free draining, well aerated soil and hate wet feet The best lettuces grow in spring and autumn but are easily grown all year with good planning.
Lettuce grow best in sunny conditions in cooler times or in partially shaded conditions in summer. They will do best at temperatures between 8 and 24 deg C. They prefer the shade provided by other plants rather than by shade from a structure like a building. Here in Wellington we find that we can grow them right throughout winter in GreenSmart pots. Fast grown lettuce develop the best flavour and crispness. Slow grown plants tend to be bitter.
Once the plants are established it is best to water them via the water sight glass as this avoids splashing water up onto the leaves which encourages bugs and fungi on the plants
Lettuces like non-acidic conditions therefore add dolomite (for short term effect) and lime (for longer term effect). If you are able to check pH – the ideal is 6.2 to 7.0.
If you live in a windy part of the country then pick a site for the pot that will be protected from direct wind while the plants are small.
Fast grown lettuce develop the best flavour and crispness. Slow grown plants tend to be bitter.
It is best to plant every 3-4 weeks to provide continuous picking. Place the seeds 12 mm below the surface and cover with fine seed raising mix. Cover the pot with the elasticized plastic cover to create a hot house effect. The seedlings will emerge in just a few days in the warmer months and will be ready to eat in 60-65 days. If growing from plants, they will be ready to start picking in 3-4 weeks. I like to plant a few fast growing lettuces in the same pot as tomatoes or cucumbers. This gives good lettuce pickings before the tomatoes/cucumbers are half grown.
Lettuce like the company of onions, carrots, radishes and strawberries. Avoid planting with parsley and celery.
Cooking with Lettuce
Mostly we think of lettuce as being a raw vegetable but in some cuisines lettuce is cooked. Here is a Chinese recipe: http://chinesefood.about.com/od/vegetablesrecipes/r/fried_lettuce.htm
Check out this Jamie Oliver recipe.