Indoor planting has redefined the essence of having a garden at home. Now people no longer have to wait for the season to get fresh vegetables all-round the year, especially for vegetables like lettuce, which are a staple in the kitchen.
As easy as gardening can be, you still need to understand how it works to grow lettuce successfully. Growing lettuce takes around four weeks and doesn’t require too much work. But if you want those four weeks to yield a great harvest, you should first understand the most suitable ways to grow lettuce indoors.
What’s The Best Way to Grow Lettuce Indoors?
Growing lettuce indoors can be relatively straightforward if you have the necessary conditions like an open spot for sunlight penetration. If not, you might have to improvise or spend money.
If you consider fresh all-year-round vegetables as something worth spending money on, it’s the right choice. Mainly if you consume a lot of vegetables, investing in a secure vegetable garden will ascertain fresh vegetables all the time.
Either way, to get the best out of your homegrown lettuce plants, you need to provide every necessary element in adequate proportions. Below are some essential elements your baby lettuce cannot do without.
- Light: An adequate level of sunlight or artificial light is needed to grow lettuce with a 12-hour minimum exposure.
- Water: Lettuce crops need lots of water to grow, with around 95% moisture optimally. Try to use deep containers and water your lettuce roots frequently to maintain a slightly moist soil always.
- Temperature: Lettuce plants grow best in environments with temperatures of 60-70℉ at day and around 50°F at night. Bolting occurs during higher temperatures while low temperatures slow down growth.
Now that we have looked at the essential factors for a healthy lettuce garden, let us dive straight into growing lettuce.
How to Grow Lettuce At Home: DIY
The following guidelines are a step by step sequence to planting lettuce seeds to harvesting the leaves:
Materials and supplies you’ll need:
- Planting bed
- Lettuce seeds
- Growing media
- Grow light (optional)
If you’re able to get the above requirement ready, then moving to the next step is guarantee.
Planting the lettuce
- Choosing a suitable location
As discussed above, lettuce needs enough sunlight to grow. If you want to grow lettuce indoors without grow lights, you can position the pots close to a window or large opening. You will also need a stable platform, like this tiered planter box, on which your lettuce containers will rest towards the sunlight.
Wherever you choose to place your gardening pots, make sure there’s at least a 12-hour exposure to sunlight daily. For optimal experience, place it around a south-facing bay window.
In case you have no access to sunlight for your seedlings, you can improvise with grow lights.
- Choosing seeds, containers, and a growing medium
Lettuce seeds vary from one variant to the other. Some seed types are better for indoor planting than the others. Of all kinds of seeds that you choose to grow, try to avoid head lettuce. They are challenging to grow indoors.
Lettuce containers should be wide and shallow, especially if there will be a constant water supply. If you may not remember to water your plants regularly, use a deeper container to contain more water. An optimal lettuce cropping container should allow enough water and air while still maintaining breathability, like these terracotta planters.
Choose a planting mix that is for seed-starting as your lettuce soil. Garden potting soil is usually too coarse for planting seeds and young seedlings. So they may not be suitable for seed starting.
- Preparing the soil and planting
You have to moisten the soil and then fill it up with around 4 inches of the prepared mix before planting. Save some of the planting mix for later.
Place the seeds in a scattered or orderly arrangement, leaving some space between them. Depending on whether you use a single or multi-cell system, you can spread the seeds in threes, fours, or twenties.
Your planters should be placed in a warm area, and preferably on a small tray to collect excess water. You can cover the seeds loosely with a thin lid or plastic wrap.
Check the seeds every day for sprouts. Whenever they start to sprout, take off the wrap and gently thin the seedlings with a pair of scissors or any suitable tool. They should be almost an inch apart.
- Monitoring growth
When your seedlings begin to grow, you need to regularly pay more attention to the soil’s moisture. Inadequate or excess water can destroy your baby lettuce at any stage of growth. This garden bed comes with self-watering planter boxes, alongside a drainage plug. So it’s your best bet to maintain optimal moisture content for baby lettuce plants.
And, watch where you position the planters. There should be around 12-16 hours of sunlight but not too much heat. Else, the crops will dry out.
If you’d love to get the best out of your lettuce garden, feed your plants with a liquid organic fertilizer after their first set of leaves. Yes, everything liquid. Lettuce crops love water!
Lettuce plants are exceptionally delicate, and hence, need an extra bit of attention when grown indoors.
Check on your seedlings from time to time. They should look green and healthy. Yellow, thin plants are an indicator or inadequate nutrients or care. Also, the water content should only be moist, not watery.
Indoor baby lettuce takes around three to four weeks to grow as tall as 4 inches- the optimal age for harvest.
When you want to use some lettuce leaves, start with trimming the outer leaves from the plant’s base. The new sprouts, above the shoot system, will continue to grow for a few days. Cut only what you need, as lettuce is perishable. At the end of every harvest, start planting another batch of seeds.
So, there you have it: the best ways to grow lettuce indoors.
Lettuce as a garden can be inexpensive and easy to maintain. Pay enough attention, and you’ll get your veggies as fresh as ever!
All you should do is provide enough sunlight and moisture to keep your baby lettuce from dying off. Growing crops indoor offers cooler temperatures that keep veggies from bolting and becoming bitter. This is a great advantage, particularly during summertime.
Take your time to plant and enjoy every moment of it!