Lettuce Challenge Resources: Facts and photo ops

these days, before I eat my grocery store lettuce, I have to take photos.  Send me your lettuce photos
these days, before I eat my grocery store lettuce, I am taking photos.  This is a super curvy hydroponic boston lettuce from Stop & Shop.  See the hexagonal shape?

Photo Op:  Send me your lettuce photos to share here, and I’ll collect them for our student slideshows, I cannot get enough of these lovely leaves, any variety welcome!

Today I’m sharing some recent research on lettuce seeds/soil, if you’re interested in following along.  Feel free to share your finds too, by emailing to youth.director @ gecgreenwich.org.  We’ll share more facts here on seedlings, plants, and lettuce history as we go along.

Three reassuring facts for fellow beginners

  • Growing lettuce is great to do with kids, because it’s so easy to grow and it grows so quickly.
  • Lettuce goes from seed to baby greens in 5-6 weeks, and seed to salad bowl in 6-8 weeks, so it’s a great plant for school gardens.
  • As long as it gets regular water, lettuce can thrive in trays as shallow as 4” (10 cm), and pots of any kind, so it’s a great plant for container vegetable gardening.

– See more at: http://www.grow-it-organically.com/growing-lettuce.html

Look at those ridges, and soil!  By now you are running to your fridge to photograph your lettuce, I'm sure!  (Boston lettuce again)
Look at those ridges, and edges, and soil! By now you are running to your ‘fridge to photograph your lettuce, I’m sure! (Boston lettuce again)

Six soil and timing production must-knows

  • For maximum lettuce production, it’s wise to select a site where the soil drains well, yet retains some moisture.
  • The soil should also be rich in nitrogen and potassium, The best way to accomplish this is to work in plenty of organic matter (compost, rotted manure, or leaf mold) that will loosen and enrich the soil. Strive for a pH of 6.0 to 6.8.
  • Most lettuce varieties mature in 45 to 55 days, allowing many gardeners to plant two or even three crops. But looseleaf and butterhead leaves can be harvested at just about any time in their development. Heading varieties take longer to mature. Romaine takes 75 to 85 days and crisphead 70 to 100 days.
  • Lettuce is so easy to grow it can be started indoors for early transplants or sown directly in the garden. In fact, doing both is recommended to get maximum production.
  • Provide the seedlings with plenty of sunlight or keep them under artificial lighting until ready to move into the garden. Transplant the seedlings as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. If a hard freeze threatens, protect the seedlings with a cloche or row cover. Reserve a number of lettuce seedlings to fill empty spaces in the garden as the season progresses.
  • Keep in mind that lettuce seeds won’t germinate in soil that is 80 degrees F. or warmer, so there’s no sense in sowing directly in the garden in the summer. Resort to starting heat-tolerant varieties indoors and moving the lettuce seedlings into the garden, preferably under partial shade, after they’ve developed a few true leaves.



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