A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN

Planting Lettuce In Containers Is So Easy

  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. 

  To plant lettuce in a container you will need: 

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!

A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN

Planting Seeds Indoors

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Planning on growing vegetables this spring from seed?  It is not too late to start indoors.  Here are 10 easy tips to get you started.

1. Find the perfect location. Make sure you have a bright sunny location to place your seedlings once they are planted. A South facing window is ideal with plenty of ambient light. If you are placing trays on a windowsill make sure you fully rotate trays 180 degrees to avoid your seedling becoming too leggy.

2. Containers and trays. I recommend using a tray with a liner for starting seeds. The liners are divided into 4 or 6 cells about an inch wide. You can easily find seed starting kits at your local garden center. They usually include the tray with the liner and a clear plastic cover that acts like a mini greenhouse. This allows heat and humidity to build within the trays to help with germination.

3. Add an artificial light source to extend daylight. I recommend a grow light kit, by Hydrofarm that contains a 60 or 150 watt bulb with a clamp lamp for easy attachment. They are easy to install and extremely affordable for a small windowsill garden.

4. Soil. Choose a premium bagged seed starting mix. Espoma Organic seed starting mix is a sterile potting mix fortified with Mycorrhizae to promote strong root growth which is essential when germinating seeds.

5. Select your vegetables. There are many varieties of tomatoes, peppers, and other veggies to grow. Choose the vegetables you know you and your family will enjoy eating.

6. Sow your seeds. Fill your seed trays with potting medium and moisten the soil. Carefully begin sowing seeds directly into the soil. Depending upon what vegetable or flower seeds you are using you can sow 3 to 4 seeds per cell. Lightly cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting medium and with a mister bottle water in seedlings.

7. Heat things up. As we have mentioned earlier keeping a clear plastic cover on the tray provides a warm cozy environment that encourages germination. You can also place trays on a heat mat that increase the ambient soil temperature by 10 – 20 degrees. Seedling heat mats are affordable and can be easily found at your local garden center. Once your seeds germinate remove from heated mat.

8. Feed your seed. When the seedlings begin to produce their primary cotyledons begin fertilizing. Use a high quality liquid fish / seaweed emulsion. Use half the recommended rate mixed with water and feed once per week.

9. Keep the air moving. Make sure your seedlings are in a well ventilated area. If the air is too stagnate add a small circulating fan to gently move the air around your seedlings.

10. Harden off. When you are ready to bring your seedlings outdoors you want make sure you harden off the tender new plants. Gradually introduce natural sunlight and temperature changes by moving the seedlings outdoors on an overcast day or a shaded porch for a few hours at a time. Increase the amount of light light each day and then transplant into the ground when the last threat of frost has passed.

Hope you find these quick and easy tips helpful and encourages you start your seeds today.
Let me know what seedlings are you planning to grow this spring.

Tina Sottolano-Cain is a horticulturist with 17 years experience in the gardening industry and owner of Gardens on the Go, a gardening and consultation firm.
She is host of Garden Minute for Calkins Media.