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hi -- I have questions about growing lettuce

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 3:37 pm
by starflare
Does anyone know anything about growing lettuce?

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 4:21 pm
by Kisal
Many of our members grow lettuce and would be happy to help you with advice. What specific questions do you have? :)


Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 5:22 pm
by starflare
it is hard to ask a question like that, any specific way to grow or feed them, i guess?

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 6:05 pm
by Kisal
It's been a long time since I've grown lettuce. It prefers cool weather, and tends to bolt (bloom and make seeds) when the weather gets too warm for it. Once it bolts, the leaves become bitter, so it's no good to eat. In my area, I would plant it in early spring, before the weather gets too warm, and a second crop in late summer or early fall, when the weather cooled down a bit. I don't know what area you're located in, so I don't know if that timing would work in your area.

Have you planted your lettuce yet? My area has been having a heat wave this week, but things will be back to normal on Monday. If I had planted lettuce this spring, I'm sure it would be bolting about now.

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 6:26 pm
by rigardengal
In New England, we plant our lettuce plants early in the season because of the cooler temperatures. This season, because we've been un-seasonable cooler, I'm able to get a second planting before it gets too hot. I buy my plants already started, so I can't say about planting by seeds. Lettuce doesn't take much to grow. It grows rather fast, in my opinion. The only difference I see, vs. grocery lettuce, is, it may not be as 'crisp', but it is so nice and tender! I've done both in my raised bed and in containers. The containers I've left by the slider out back, so if I want some quickly on a sandwich, I just pick a few leaves off. I grow red and green leaf, buttercrunch, and iceberg.


Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 7:09 pm
by starflare
I am in suffolk ny so what kind of lettuce do u suggest then to plant.

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:51 pm
by jal_ut
I can tell you what I do.
Plant very early in the spring.
Plant seed.
Plant 3 or 4 seeds every foot in the row (together). Later you will thin these clumps to one plant each foot in the row. This allows the plants space, to grow into a nice head.
Plant in full sun.
Plant these varieties: Black Seeded Simpson, Romaine, or other leaf letttuces. I haven't had much luck growing Iceberg.
Harvest the whole plant when you want to eat some.

Black Seeded Simpson


Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:24 am
by starflare
Thanks jal_ut for the info, but the one i planted don't make it past i think 1/2 in[url=][img][/img][/url]
ch in height.
Can some one give me an idea what i am doing wrong.


Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:16 am
by rainbowgardener
Hard to know, even when I enlarged it, picture didn't give a lot of detail. But your soil looked pretty dry. Lettuce is mostly water, so it needs plenty of water to grow.

Other than that, the more information you can give us about what it's conditions are the better. How much sun does it get, have you been getting lots of rain or none or? What kind of soil is it in and have you fertilized it? Do you see any holes in the leaves or other signs of something eating it? Does it grow fast and then just stop or what happens?

I agree with freedwood that I haven't had much success growing iceberg lettuce, but all the different kinds of leaf lettuces have grown well. I have very fertile soil and I add compost at planting time and so then I don't fertilize after that and it does fine.


Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:53 am
by starflare
they what u would call baby stage and there are know holes i am using miracle soil and liquid food and it is getting light for now from a sun light bulb.

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:43 am
by applestar
You've put too many seeds in the same spot. That first clump, I estimate 25~30 little sprouts.

To start lettuce indoors, I plant in clear berry containers. Square 1 pint or rectangular 1 qt. Then I sow the seeds ONE AT A TIME, in groups of 3 about 1/4~1/2" apart. I space the groups about 1" apart so I sow about 9 groups in a pint container and 12~15 groups in a quart container. After spraying the surface of the soil with warm water, I put them in plastic takeout container trays and water from the bottom, and use the cover of the berry containers until the seedlings sprout (then I cut the covers off).

The grow lights should be a 75~100 watt equivalent CFL bulb or at least a double fixture fluorescent lights which stay relatively cool when on, and they should be positioned no more than 2" from the top of the little plants. The seedlings in your photo are much too white and spindly -- they're not getting enough light. The seed leaves should have opened around 1/4"~1/2" from the surface of the soil.

The seedlings are thinned to one out of each group. After 2nd set of true leaves grow, I either separate them and uppot in individual 3"~4" pots or plant them out (AFTER hardening off).

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 6:29 pm
by applestar
Yep, that light's the wrong kind. A flood light will cook your plants if you put it much closer, especially over a covered terrarium. You can get a similar light fixture with a shiny aluminum hood (I got mine from automotive section of Walmart, but you can also get them at Home Depot or Lowes. CFL bulbs like I said before -- just be careful not to break these bulbs as they contain minute amounts of mercury.

I'm not entirely sure that you can grow lettuce in a terrarium like that. But if that's what you want to try, then I suggest you start the seeds in the way I described, then transplant them into the terrarium. At that point, the lettuce shouldn't be covered. Lettuce leaves remain fragile when they're not stimulated with air currents and real sunlight. Bruised lettuce leaves quickly turn brown and mushy. Some people use oscillating fans to for toughening up their indoor-grown seedlings. One member (somegeek, I think?) rigged a computer fan. Again, I have to express some doubts. Your grow/plant light will be too hot for lettuce. Maybe use Daylight CFL -- the lights still need to be pretty close to the leaves -- maybe 4" max?

As for the seeds being too small -- if you think lettuce seeds are small, you should see some of the others! :wink: I think you'll find them easier to manipulate when not trying to put them in a bottom of a terrarium. (Not sure if that's what you did as the photo you PM'd me looks different from the one you posted here) Work in a well lighted area where you can sit comfortably -- like a desk or a kitchen table -- and use a toothpick dipped in water to pick them up individually.


Posted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:26 pm
by starflare
this is a plant bulb we are using but the baby plants we got left look like they are perking up.

Posted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:51 pm
by tedln
I grew leaf lettuce this year by planting it where it would be shaded by my cucumber plants as they grew up the trellis. It delayed the bolting by about a month in the hot Texas heat, and we always had lettuce for salads and sandwiches.

I have large hands and it is diffucult for me to handle tiny seeds like lettuce seeds. I normally fill a five gallon bucket half full of a good quality potting soil and then add a full packet of leaf lettuce seed. I put the lid on the bucket and shake it vigorously until I feel the seed is evenly distributed in the mix. I then pour the mix/seed over the small area of soil I want to plant and try to disperse it evenly. I press the mix down firmly with my hand and mist spray it with a water hose.

The lettuce will germinate thickly. Some people would recommend thinning the plants. I don't. I've found that as I remove the larger plants to eat, the smaller plants underneath grow to fill in the empty space.




Posted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 5:22 pm
by starflare
That sounds cool ted[url=][img]https://im[URL=][img][/img][/url][/img][/URL]

Posted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 6:51 pm
by Jerseygardengirl
I have terrible luck growing lettuce. :( Every time without fail, if I don't pick it SUPER young and try to get a head to form, poof, it bolts. I think next year I may just grow something else in place of the lettuce.

Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 4:31 pm
by tedln

I've never lived in a climate where head lettuce could easily be grown. I've never tried something like iceberg which I think you are talking about. I do have pretty good luck growing leaf lettuce and it is a good replacement for head lettuce. I do have to plant early and shade it under my cucumbers on the cucumber trellis to prevent early bolting. Maybe yours would benefit from some shade to delay bolting.



Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 7:04 pm
by starflare
Jersey garden girl u could try growing indoors first.

Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 7:29 pm
by applestar
Jerseygardengirl, I've always had the same problem. Always planted lettuce some time in late April (around last frost date here in Zone 6b, NJ), never could get them to grow properly.

This year, I started looseleaf lettuce Red Sails from seeds on Feb. 8 on a whim. Planted them out on March 14. Other lettuce -- Iceberg Summertime and Red Glacier, Batavian Magenta, Butterhead Red Cross, Baby Romaine TinTin -- I started on March 1. Some of the Summertime was planted out on March 15. All others including rest of the Summertime were planted out on March 31. They were all protected with plastic covers and/or double layer of floating covers, as well as heavy plastic sheeting surrounding the garden bed fence. I kept a thermometer in each location to monitor low temps as well as daytime temps IN THE SUN.

With all the frost and freezes we had, it was necessary to keep them covered until April 21. Then we had that heat wave with day high hitting the 90's, and I had to shade them and mist them during the day to keep them from overheating.

But I was eating the extra early Red Sails by early April and the other heading varieties all headed up beautifully. I can tell you though, that out of all of them, Iceberg Summertime was the WORST. Slugs regularly had orgies inside it :evil: If you want Iceberg, I recommend you go with Red Glacier.


Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 7:57 am
by starflare
But if u plant them indoors over the winter and at the next warm weather of next yr they might be big enough to plant outdoors.


Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 12:38 pm
by starflare
Here goes ano[url=][img][/img][/url]
ther pic