Spring is coming…I promise. Here in Pennsylvania we have had spring fever all month long, enjoying above normal temperatures. Needless to say we have become very spoiled. Now the rug is being pulled out from under us, snow is predicted for the first day of spring. Regardless of the weather I went ahead a got a head start on my veggie garden. Even though my raised beds haven’t been prepped I couldn’t resist the urge to plant something edible outdoors. So I went ahead and planted lettuce in a container on my deck. Since lettuce can tolerate the cold temperatures I don’t have to worry about the temperature dipping near freezing tonight or the coming snow.
Planting lettuce in containers is so easy and perfect if you don’t have space for a traditional garden. Plus it deters critters form feasting on your bounty if plants are close to home. I planted a mesclun mix, often referred to as cut and come again lettuce, this mix consists of red sails, mizuna and oak leaf varieties. The flavors range from mild to slightly bitter. They are easy to grow and simple to harvest.
10 -12″ pot, a bowl works well, but not necessary.
Organic potting mix 32 quart bag
1 pack of 6 starter plants, if you want to grow organic variety check label.
1. Fill pot with soil.
2. Remove starter plants from pack and place in pot. You don’t need to leave a lot of space between plants, 1-2″ is sufficient.
3. Water in plants. Water when soil dries. Consistency is key when watering lettuce. Be Careful not to over water or under water your plants. This will lead to bitter tasting lettuce.
4. Fertilizing. Lettuce love to grow in a nutrient rich composted soil. Using a high quality organic bagged potting soil containing Echto and Endo Mycorrhizae is a good start. You can add an organic fertilizer once plants are established. Use a slow release fertilizer NPK 5-7-3.
5. When do I Harvest? In about 2weeks you’ll be able to cut some fresh greens for your salad.
I hope you will try growing lettuce in containers. It is the perfect start for the beginner gardener and a great way to teach your kids how much fun it is to grow what you eat! Nothing beats the taste of home grown veggies!
Seedlings are very tender and delicate in the early stages of growth. They need to be moved outside gradually to become adjusted to a brighter light source and fluctuating temperatures, this is called ’hardening off.’
Hardening off is not as scary as it may sound. Transitioning your seedlings can be done in a few easy steps.
1.Take your seedlings outside to a protected location. Once the temperatures reach the mid 60’s to 70 degrees move seedling trays to a covered patio or any sheltered location for one hour. Increase the time one hour per day.
2.Be sure to keep them away from any direct light and harsh winds in the beginning. I usually like to do this on a cloudy or overcast warm spring day. By the end of the week they will have been exposed to 7 hours of light. Continue moving them out to a more direct light source gradually.
3. Don’t let seedlings dry out. Make sure you keep your trays evenly moist. The gradual introduction to light and air, from ambient wind or breeze, will dry plants out faster than if they we’re in a controlled environment.
Your seedlings are like your little babies. After all you did cultivate them from seed. Treat them tenderly and give them a fighting chance once you send them out to the big world called your garden.