Growing lettuce indoors
If you are interested in growing vegetables indoors, one of the easiest vegetables is lettuce. Growing lettuce indoors is a great vegetable to try because lettuce comes in lots of varieties, grows quickly, takes up only a little space, tolerates less light and less heat than some vegetables.
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There are four main types of lettuces
There are nearly 100 varieties of lettuce however they all fall into one of four categories: Butterhead, Iceberg, Loose leaf, and Romaine.
Butterheads are loose heads with a mild buttery taste. Boston lettuce is the most common variety. These have become a favorite with hydroponic growers.
Iceberg is also known as crispheads. These are typically tight pale green heads. Best characterized with very crisp leaves good for chopped salads or to add a crispness to a sandwich.
Loose leaf are lettuces the grow leaves from a single stem. They have crisp, large leaves and come typically in green or red. They are great lettuce to grow because you can pick a few leaves at a time and others will continue to grow.
Romaine grows long v shaped leaves in a loose tall head. Some leaves can be picked as the plant continues to grow. Some varieties have a more closed head and should be harvested at one time.
Growing lettuce indoors is quick
Lettuce grows quickly depending on the variety.
Iceberg lettuce takes the longest from seed to harvest. These can take from 75 to 100 days to grow nice size heads.
Romaine is a bit quicker. To grow a full head of romaine it will take about 60 to 85 days.
Butterheads and loose leaf varieties are the quickest at about 45-55 days from seed to table. The best part of these varieties is that they can be picked as each leaf matures.
Growing lettuce indoors takes up little space
When deciding if you want to plant lettuce or any vegetables indoors it is important to consider the space needed.
It is pretty easy to determine the space you need for growing lettuce. Lettuce is one of the few vegetables that the whole plant is the vegetable. If you are not sure if you have space, just go to the market and take a look at how big the plant will be.
Lettuce works well in 8″ pots. You can also grow several in a large pot, window box or other bigger areas.
Since most lettuce grows less than 15″ tall, they work great on shelves. It can be grown on windowsills, kitchen shelves, or bookcases.
Try putting a pot of lettuce amongst your herbs or house plants.
Lettuce is a great choice in lower light situations
Growing lettuce indoors is easier than other plants because lettuce needs fewer hours of light than some vegetables.
Lettuce will grow fastest with about 8-10 hours of sunlight a day.
However, lettuce does not like the heat that normally comes with direct sunlight. So 8-10 hours of a mixture of sun, partial shade and all shade will keep your lettuces happy.
Grow lights that fall in the cooler range of 4,000-7,000k will make your plants grow very well. If you need more information regarding how to choose a grow light check out this article.
Growing lettuce indoors does not require much heat
Lettuce is a cool weather crop. That means it grows best in the 70-75 degree range. That is the temperature that most people keep their homes, so it works well indoors.
If you keep your house a bit colder, in the 60s, no worries. Lettuce does well in lower temperatures as well.
Keep in mind that warmer temperatures will not make your lettuce happy. Lettuce will bolt if the temperatures stay in the 80s for any length of time.
If you have a choice between direct sunlight and a warm spot or a shaded cool spot, always put your lettuce into the cooler spot.
Soil needed for growing lettuce indoors
As with most container vegetables, lettuce prefers an organic rich soil that is well drained.
A consistent low moisture soil level is good. The best garden tool for watering lettuce is a spray bottle. Spray bottles will give the soil a nice even watering without damaging the seedlings.
For more information about potting soil please read this article.
Fertilizer for lettuce
Since lettuce is a quick growing vegetable, no fertilizer is needed during the growing period. Remember to start with rich potting soil.
Growing lettuce indoors with hydroponics and aquaponic
Lettuce is one of the easiest vegetables to grow with hydroponics. If you ever think that you would like to try growing indoors using hydroponics or aquaponics, lettuce is the best starter.
The Kratky method which is a non-circulation method is typically a good choice for lettuce. These systems are simple to set up. Check out a complete guide to Kratky here.
The other effective way to grow lettuce with hydroponics is the NFT or NFS systems. This is also pretty easy to set up at home. In these systems the water circulates under the plants. Check out all the details here.
Cornell University did a good paper on the growth of hydroponics in commercial farming of lettuce. If you have time it is an interesting read.
I hope you find this inspiring. It’s never a bad time to start an indoor garden.
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