Tips for Growing Lettuce In The Garden

by Dave Truman

Lettuce is a great addition to any vegetable gardening. Not only is it healthy to eat, it takes up very little space, unlike pumpkins. But for an optimal crop a few simple guidelines are helpful.

To grow lettuce or any other vegetable, you need to have good soil. For lettuce, keep the nitrogen high by using 30-10-10 NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) fertilizer. This will provide the lettuce with the nutrition it needs to produce healthy leaves.

When planting lettuce seeds make sure they are planted 1/8-3/8 inch deep, separated by 6- inches (2-3.5 m) from the next plant. Romaine lettuce can be planted closer together but other crisp lettuce need more space. If you plant in rows, keep the rows separated by about 20 inches (6m).

Keeping the soil moist but not soaked is good. Lettuce doesn’t have very deep roots, so it needs to find moisture near the surface. Still, try to keep the water off the leaves and onto the soil, except for the occasional washing. Wet leaves encourages disease, especially when they’re moist during nighttime temperatures.

Since lettuce lacks deep root growth it has to find moisture near the surface. Therefore it is important to keep the soil moist but not saturated. Try to keep the water off of the leaves and into the soil except for the occasional washing. Wet leaves especially during nighttime temperatures can lead to disease.

Like most vegetables, lettuce plants also have problems with diseases and pests. In their case, the variety is quite large. Many insects find the leaves irresistible and the folds offer many for fungi to grow.

Aphids, flea beetles, leafhoppers, slugs and cutworms are common insects that feast on lettuce. Washing the leaves with a high-pressure hose can temporally help get rid of the insects. Insecticide lightly to the lettuce will provide better long-term control.

One common fungal disease is anthracnose (Microdochium panattonianum). This fungus can stay alive in soil for many years. Bottom rot (Rhizoctonia solani) is another common fungus. This type of fungus usually occurs in soil that drains poorly. To combat these fungi, keep foliage dry and plant in good soil.

Another common problem with lettuce is bolting. Bolting is not a disease or pest but occurs when the plant goes to seed and the leaves growing. Bolting happens when the temperatures are consistently too high. To prevent this from happening, plant lettuce in shaded area or plant next to a shading crop such as corn.

Lettuce is a wonderful vegetable to have in your garden. With proper preparation and care, you can enjoy salads with fresh lettuce throughout the growing season.

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