A basic ingredient in any salad and any vegetable sandwich or sandwich, Lactuca sativa , known by all as lettuce, is one of the most widely consumed herbaceous plants in kitchens around the world.
This plant has a large number of varieties among which we can highlight the iceberg lettuce, common in supermarkets, the French or Trocadero lettuce, with an intense flavor, the romaine lettuce or Italian lettuce, also known as orejona lettuce, oak lettuce or oak leaf, and batavia lettuce, among others. Each of them has its distinctive culinary properties, which make it more suitable for consumption in different ways. As an example, while in most of the world its leaves are eaten raw, there are varieties of Chinese origin that, being more robust, are cooked before being consumed.
If you want to know how to grow organic lettuce at home , keep reading this article we will see when and how to plant lettuce and its cultivation , to be able to enjoy this delicious vegetable without having to spend more in the shopping cart.
When to plant lettuce
Lettuce is an ideal plant for beginners, as it does not need special care and can grow in a very short time. So much so, that it can be sown practically all year round in temperate climates . If you live in cold climates, avoid sowing in the winter months, between December and February.
How to sow lettuce seeds
The most common way to sow lettuce is to plant the seeds in a seedbed . It is also possible to sow direct, but this will require thinning later to leave only the plants that develop better, so it is preferable to plant them in a seedbed and thus maximize the possibilities of each seed. To plant the lettuce seeds , simply follow these steps:
- Make a hole of just under 1 centimeter in the substrate of the seedbed, and insert a seed in it.
- Then cover it with the mixture and water.
- In the same way, it is also recommended to moisten the mixture before planting, and keep it that way during the first days, although always avoiding puddles.
- In less than a week you should start to see the seedlings sprout, which will be ready to be transplanted as soon as they have their second pair of leaves.
As an additional detail, some people recommend chilling the seeds for 2 days in the refrigerator, between sheets of absorbent or blotting paper. This is especially useful in particularly hot climates.
How to transplant a lettuce seedling
Once the plants have their second pair of true leaves, it is time to move them to their final location, which can be the vegetable garden, garden or even a large pot. Follow these guidelines to transplant a lettuce plant :
- If you are going to plant several lettuces together, respect a distance of approximately 20 centimeters between them.
- Extract the seedling from the seedbed being careful not to damage its roots, without removing the mixture from these, although if the roots look very curled on themselves when extracting them, unscrewing them or cutting them a few centimeters can help them to develop better.
- Once you have planted them in their final location, water them.
In addition, we recommend that if you plant the plants in an orchard or garden, around them you plant other vegetables such as onions, beets and cabbages, as they are the vegetables and greens that grow well together .
Lettuce care: how is its cultivation
Lettuce is a plant that does not require much care, but one of the things it is demanding with is water.
Soil and irrigation for lettuces
This vegetable needs the soil to be kept moist, especially in its early stages of life. Of course, you should not confuse a wet soil with a waterlogged one. If you overwater your lettuces, you run a high risk of getting sick and suffering from pests or attacks.
Light, temperature and location
With regard to the sun, we have already said that it is a plant that needs a cool and humid environment, so it will appreciate being in a shady area. If you leave it in an area with direct sun exposure, a few days of hot weather could kill your lettuces.
Compost for lettuce
For the soil or substrate, it is important that it has good drainage and is rich in nutrients, for which humus or other types of organic fertilizer can be used .
When the lettuces are picked
The harvest of lettuce can be done over a long period of time, from when they are still quite small until they reach their maximum size, but if you let them ripen too much they will become bitter and will no longer be useful for consumption.
For this reason, and given that these vegetables mature very quickly (some varieties grow in about 20 days) and during most of the year, it is advisable to plant them in a staggered manner, so that you can enjoy your own fresh lettuces throughout the season .