Growing Lettuce in Containers
Author: Suzy Weast, MonkeyPots
Growing lettuce in containers is one of the most rewarding and easy of gardening projects. The only thing your need to grow container lettuce is a container, potting soil, fertilizer, plus seedlings or starter plants. Of course having a MonkeyPots Perfect Patio Planter makes it a cinch to grow lettuce off the ground and away from pests such as rabbits.There are many types of lettuce and most of them are very easy to grow. To get started decide what type of lettuce you’d like to grow. It’s best to grow something you enjoy eating. You’ll find many types of seeds at your local nursery or home improvement center. Seed packets come in many varieties, some have just one type of seed such as green leaf or romaine while other packets that might be labeled gourmet or mesclun mix. Mixed seed packets can be fun because you may not have even tried some of the varieties of greens that you end up growing. Some of the varieties found in mesclun mix packets greens such red leaf, arugula, radicchio, chervil, watercress and mustard to name a few. If you are impatient like I am, go with starter plants which can also be found in your local nursery. Starter plants give your garden a jumpstart and will give you a crop sooner than if you start with seeds.
Seedlings can be started indoors and then planted into a container. Check your seed packet to see how long the lettuce seed takes to germinate. When I germinate seeds I try and use a container that may have previously used for another purpose. Instead of throwing away a plastic container that may have had grapes or apples in it I will turn it in to a seedling container. Lay in about an inch of good potting soil spread in seeds in about 1” apart, cover them lightly with soil and keep them moist until they sprout. When they look established gently remove them with their surrounding dirt and plant them in the container. Don’t skimp when deciding what type of dirt to use in your planter. I suggest using a good potting soil as well as an organic fertilizer if you want to grow organically. The use of organic fertilizer means you probably don’t need to fertilize as often as you would if you were using non-organic fertilizers such as the blue powder that you mix with water.
The best time of year to grow lettuce depends on where you are geographically. It’s easy to check your zone. It is on the back of most seed packets. Lettuce does not like very hot weather. Most gardeners like to plant lettuce in the spring and the fall. Lettuce likes sun and does well in warm, but not hot weather.
Gardeners are really embracing self-watering containers like the MonkeyPots Perfect Patio Planter because they don’t need to be watered daily. Just keep an eye on the reservoir and make sure it’s kept fairly full. During the hot summer months the planter will need refilling more regularly. Regular watering is vital to growing vegetables. In my planters I plant my lettuce closer together than might be recommended if it were being grown in the dirt or a raised bed. I’ll place them about six inches apart because I like a very full planter box. If the planter looks crowded, you can always thin out your plants. I plant my lettuce in both the large base planter of the Perfect Patio Planter and also in the smaller upper planters. To get get big heads of lettuce plant in the larger container and for more petite lettuce plant in the smaller containers.
Lettuce takes about 45-60 days to grow to full size. Harvesting can be done by either cutting the entire head off or pick just the outside leaves. If you’d like to keep your lettuce a little longer, pick the outside leaves and let the plant continue to grow. The plant will generate new leaves and give you more lettuce.
If you have children around the house, get them involved in growing their vegetables. Little gardeners may be more inclined to eat their veggies if they grew them!
Happy Gardening from MonkeyPots!