The lettuce , belongs to the same horticultural family as the escaroles, chicory and artichokes, is ideal for growing in urban gardens at home for the following reasons:
- The cultivation of lettuce does not require excessive care and is not usually affected by the diseases that attack the vegetables.
- It is a short cycle crop, in a short time it can already be harvested, so it can be combined with other longer cycle crops to better take advantage of the cultivation table space.
- Through a combination of the different varieties of lettuce that exist you can have a lettuce crop continuously throughout the year.
- It is a crop that adapts very well to the cultivation tables.
What do you need to grow lettuce at home?
A small space where from direct sunlight
You can grow lettuce at home in a small patio, garden, terrace or balcony where the sun usually rises. For the cultivation of lettuce you have the advantage that it can be grown without too many daily hours of sunlight, during summer it is even better to grow them In a place in semi-shade.
If at the time of growing lettuce at home you do not have a place where you can grow them directly on the ground you will have to opt for the option of growing lettuce on growing tables.
The culture tables that exist, with different lengths, widths and heights, adapt very well to the space you have, allowing you to grow lettuce always in a comfortable position.
The best way to grow lettuce at home is to use organic substrates, which should be light, to allow you to handle them simply and not overload your terrace or balcony.
They must have an optimum porosity, which allows good air circulation so that the lettuce roots can breathe well and also have to retain water and nutrients. These three requirements are met by composted organic substrates, such as earthworm humus, which will also act as fertilizer by providing all the nutrients the plant needs.
Another substrate that does not provide many nutrients but has some of the aforementioned characteristics (lightness, aeration, water retention and nutrient retention) is coconut fiber.
Therefore, the most convenient way to grow lettuce is a mixture of substrates; one that provides good structure conditions (coconut fiber) and another that acts as fertilizer providing nutrients (earthworm humus). The appropriate proportion is 60% coconut fiber and 40% humus.
On the cultivation table, water runs out more easily than on the ground, which will force you to be more aware of the irrigation of your lettuce than if you grow lettuce directly on a plot.
You can water manually, using a watering can and do the watering little by little to avoid the formation of cracks in the substrate.
On the other hand, it will help you to install a drip irrigation system on your cultivation table . This system allows you to control the flow of water you supply to the crop, providing the crop strictly with the water it needs, without wasting it and without causing excess water.
In the case of lettuce cultivation requires short but very frequent watering to keep the substrate always fresh.
Once you are clear about the space you are going to use, the containers you are going to use, the substrate and the form of irrigation, you only have to get the seeds of the lettuce that you are going to grow at home.
- Butter lettuce seeds (lettuce 4 seasons)
- Romaine lettuce seeds (long blond romaine lettuce, Tudela buds, valladolid romaine lettuce …)
- Batavia lettuce seeds (summer wonder lettuce, oak leaf lettuce …)
The sowing of lettuce is done in seedbed, although it can also be done by direct sowing and then perform thinning, to end up leaving a distance between lettuces of 20-30 cm.
In the case that you opt for sowing in the seedbed, the right time to do the transplant is when the plant has 4-5 true leaves.
Seedbeds advised to sow lettuce seeds
Seeds biodegradable. This type of seedlings are made with a biodegradable material that disappears with the irrigation inside the substrate, so when transplanting it is not necessary to remove the seedling but the entire seedbed is planted, the stress that causes the transplantation for lettuces being less.
Peat pills They are really very comfortable, since it is not necessary to provide extra substrate, you just have to wet the tablet.
The steps to follow when making a seedbed are:
Find an outdoor place where there is sun. Although later at night in case the lettuces are sown in autumn or winter it is necessary to protect the seedbed in another place safe from low temperatures.
Place the substrate. The same substrate is used to fill the culture table.
Sowing. The depth at which the lettuce seed is buried is 2 times its diameter.
Irrigation . At this beginning of the crop the lettuce is very sensitive to water scarcity, so the substrate must always be moist. When watering, a sprayer must be used to avoid dragging the seeds into the substrate.
Clarification If several lettuce seeds have germinated per seedbed, a thinning should be done leaving one plant per seedbed, the one we see stronger.
Harvesting takes place between two months, two and a half months after planting in the bud varieties, a continuous harvest can also occur, cutting the necessary leaves, in the cut lettuce varieties such as oak leaf lettuce.
Optimal associations with lettuce cultivation
At the time of growing lettuce at home it is important to associate the crop with vegetables that associate well with lettuce such as: Garlic, onion, cabbage, cucumber, leek, radish, tomato, carrot, eggplant, zucchini, spinach, pea, bean, bean , turnip, pepper and beet.
Within these possible associations, it is also important to choose cycle crops that are longer than lettuce, such as onions, leeks and tomatoes.
Aphid . Millimeter insect that feeds on the sap of lettuce.
Solution to the aphid in case of suffering an attack of aphids. It can be fought using potash soap and proneem.
Mildew. The mildew is caused by a fungus that appears in the form of gray or black spots that end up drying the leaves.
Mildiu solution in case the mildew appears in the crop. Quickly remove the affected leaves or whole plants if it affects all lettuce, used as preventive nettle extract (to strengthen the cellular structure of lettuce) used as curative (if lettuce this already affected) extract ponytail .
How to grow lettuce in urban gardens at home in an ecological way
When it comes to growing lettuce at home it makes more sense to grow an ecologically so that you will get totally natural, crispy and tasty lettuce.
Tips for growing lettuce in an ecological way
Grow aromatic plants and flowers that create biodiversity in your small garden with your lettuce. Do not forget to respect the planting season of the varieties of lettuce that you are going to grow at home in this way you will always grow strong and resistant pests. Do not use chemical agents such as insecticides and fungicides in any way to combat the occurrence of diseases or pests, always use organic insecticides and fungicides.
Practice the association with vegetables that are good partners of lettuce so that it grows more vigorously and without the need to compete for nutrients and water with other vegetables. Always use organic lettuce seeds for planting and finally always use organic substrates for growing.