DebF
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Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 10:25 pm
Location: N. Indiana (zone 5)

Container growing lettuce

I want to start some lettuce now and since my ground is too heavy and wet to start it outside yet, I want to plant a container with some lettuce for me to use until I get some planted outside. I just don't know how deep a container I need. How deep do the roots go? Would something like a dishpan do or do I need something bigger. I want to be able to put it outside on good days (we're expecting snow here in northern Indiana tomorrow so outside is not an option yet) so something not too heavy to carry would be preferable but I do have some great big planters that I used for big houseplants if it needs deeper containers.

opabinia51
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Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Most lettuces have pretty shallow roots; so you can plant it in a shallow container. I'm thinking that a dishpan would be to shallow though.

You can purchase little containers for fairly cheaply at local nurseries and they work quite well. Don't grow your lettuce on a window sill as contrary to common belief, this is not a healthy place for plants. The temperature extremes between day and night are quite detrimental to plant health.

I would recommend investing in a grow light.... I have to run but, I'll try to remember to add more later

DebF
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Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 10:25 pm
Location: N. Indiana (zone 5)

I found a Sterilite container that is deeper than a dish pan and much bigger that is not as deep as one of the storage totes but about the same surface area. I am going to try that as it would be small enough to move around and big enough to hold the lettuce crop in. I live in N. Indiana and its been snowing all day!!! Coldest low temp ever recorded for this date. Not very conducive for planting anything out yet.

1eyedjack
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Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 9:08 pm
Location: Up Country South Carolina

DebF wrote:I found a Sterilite container that is deeper than a dish pan and much bigger that is not as deep as one of the storage totes but about the same surface area. I am going to try that as it would be small enough to move around and big enough to hold the lettuce crop in. I live in N. Indiana and its been snowing all day!!! Coldest low temp ever recorded for this date. Not very conducive for planting anything out yet.
Hello,
I also use Sterilite containers. I get the 18 gallons ones at WallyWorld aka WalMart for about $3.97 each. I then do the following to them to use to grow my lettuce. Buy a box of # 8 sheet metal screws. They are cheap and can be gotten from HD or Lowe's. Put the lid on and using the screws attach the lid by placing a screw about every 4 inches around the lip. Then take a ruler and mark a line arould the side dividing the now closed contain with screwed on lid in half. Take a carton cutting knife and follow the line around and Wala you now have two 8 inch or so deep containers. Chuck a 3/16 drill bit in your trusty electric or cordless drill and drill drain holes in the lid and the bottom and you have two good containers just the right depth for growing lettuce and spinach. I mix potting soil with Black Cow and peat for my "soil" and feed with MiracleGro every week. I have 16 of these half contains and I start a new crop about every two to three weeks and I have lettuce all summer long.
Start in the spring with what every you like and when the weather gets warmer go to heat tolerant types like leaf lettuce.
I now have growing
Baby Star romaine
Little Gem Butter head
Green Ice Green leaf
Red Sail leaf
Slyvesta Butter head
Coastal Star Romaine
Concept Summer Crisp
Ermosa Butter head
A also use the whole 18 gallon size to grow three kinds of kale (My favorite green) and two kinds of spinach (which I hated as a kid COOKED, but love as an old man RAW)
The containers are the only way to go when growing lettuce where I live as the woods come right up to the edge of my place and I have all kinds of beasties that like to eat in the garden. It is also easier to keep slugs and other problems at bay with containers. I can keep the contains up close and move them if needed and I save my limited garden space for the really important crop.
GOURDS
I grow several kinds of hard shell gourds and trellis them to keep them in great shape (pun)
Large Apple
Dipper
Birdhouse
Bottle
Speckled Swan and Kettle gourds I grow on the ground.
At least that is the game plan. this is my first year with gourds

Hortoholic
Full Member
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2007 11:49 pm
Location: NH - Zone4

For pre-season lettuce I use short (in length) window boxes that are available at walmart and are used for herbs inside.....

Perfect size for window ledge real estate. :wink:

marinawolf
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Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 4:54 am
Location: b.c.

[color=indigo]hi there. i am not clear on how deep a container should be for my romaine transplants. i don't understand the reference to 18 gallons. how many inches are required for depth and for 8 lettuces how many to a pot? of what size?
i need a clearer idea before i lose all my little guys/
thanks so much.
blessings on bountiful gardens
marina :D [/color][/quote]

cynthia_h
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Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

A container with 18 gallons of capacity would hold approx. 75 liters. There are varying dimensions which could produce this capacity.

In their book, The Bountiful Container, Rose Marie Nichols McGee & Maggie Stuckey recommend a minimum depth of 6 inches (15 cm) for containers in which lettuces and other salad greens (mizuna, arugula, radicchio, etc.) will be grown.

As to the spacing of the romaine plants, envision the size of a full-grown plant. Now give it some breathing room--which can also function as maneuvering room for your hands--and leave space for the next romaine plant to grow also. This distance will become your spacing between plants.

I grew lettuce last year and used the "cut and come again" technique, so my lettuce plants never achieved full size; their outer leaves were always cut as new inner leaves pushed the outer ones to the edges. :) So I cheated a bit on the spacing and put them slightly closer together than most gardening authorities--even those who advocate intensive methods--would have recommended.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

marinawolf
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Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 4:54 am
Location: b.c.

thanx for your response cynthia. i will try this.
blessings
marina

wingdesigner
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Posts: 2038
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 9:58 pm
Location: Michigan--LP(troll)

If I may add this: use the "on center" method of spacing (borrowed from carpentry). Meaning: if a plant grows 12" wide and you want 2" of space between plants then you want to plant them 8" on center, measuring from center of one plant to center of another. (12+2+2=16 divided by 2=8)
That almost never works in nature, by the way, as they will get larger or stay smaller, but it's a rough guide. :roll:

oof, one more thing: don't put straight topsoil in the containers unless it's good loamy topsoil. Most folks don't have great soil and the stuff in the bags is clay-ey. Mix with about 50% well-rotted compost or 25% vermiculite, something to lighten it up so it's not so clumpy and sticky.
Happy Gardening,
Wing

atx container gardener
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Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2009 3:43 am
Location: Texas

i've never grown head lettuce, but I've grown both leaf lettuce and spinach in 3 inch deep containers with great success. watering was daily, but i didnt have to buy as much soil mix, and with the right mix, I never even had to fertlize. leaf lettuce and spinach are the only veggies in my garden that i have continud success with.

wingdesigner
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2038
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 9:58 pm
Location: Michigan--LP(troll)

end-of-summer report

The mixed leaf lettuce planted in containers with 1/2 topsoil, 1/4 vermiculite, 1/4 compost did really well. Once it got going I was getting nearly two bowls a week up until I left on vacation and it all bolted. :( I tried cutting it back but it pooped out. The neighbours got all my ripening veggies, too; now it's cold at night (in the 50's & 40's F) and everything's sulking again. Don't know if I'll try for a fall planting of lettuce, I'm kind of through with salads once cooler weather sets in.
Happy Gardening,
Wing

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