Introduction to growing organic Lettuce
A cool-season annual, Lettuce is a member of the Asteraceae family. The main advantage of Organic food is chemical-free and is grown in compost-laden soil. Maintaining an organic garden can be able with a few garden items and the knowledge of how to care for your plants. Organic Lettuce is one of the vegetables that are easy to grow in pots and small containers also. In this article we also discuss below topics;
- How do you grow organic Lettuce
- Does Lettuce need to be organic
- What is the best organic fertilizer for Lettuce
- How long does Lettuce take to grow
- Is organic Lettuce better
A step by step guide to growing organic Lettuce
Growing Organic Lettuce in pots is a great solution if you only have a small garden, patio, or balcony. If you can begin growing Lettuce in pots indoors you are also able to get a head start on the growing season. This means that you can enjoy fresh salad leaves even earlier.
Growing organic Lettuce indoors has an incredible flavor you simply have to taste to believe. Full of beneficial antioxidants and nutrients, garden Lettuce varieties are the perfect vegetable to incorporate into your healthy diet. Best of all, Lettuce is very easy to grow.
Lettuce grows to maturity within 6 to 8 weeks. This makes it an easy vegetable to grow in small gardens. Whether you choose to grow a full bed, plant some in containers, or simply tuck a few Lettuce plants in with your garden flowers, growing organic Lettuce is well worth the effort. Normally, organic Lettuce has far more nutrients and is better for you than traditionally grown Lettuce.
Prepare the soil for Organic Lettuce planting
Make sure that the soil has a pH balance between 6.0 and 6.8. The ground needs to be well-drained and full of nutrient-rich soil that is full of aged manure or compost. Organic Lettuce plants do well in steady amounts of nitrogen, so apply blood meal or compost tea to the soil before adding the seeds.
Organic Lettuce has a short, dense root system. Because the roots don’t go down very deep, you must plant it in humus-rich (dark organic matter such as aged manure or compost), well-drained soil. Organic Lettuce likes high levels of nitrogen, so apply a natural quick-release form of nitrogen such as compost tea or blood meal and a slower release form such as alfalfa meal or composted manure to keep the nitrogen supply steady throughout the growing season.
The best time to prepare the soil for Organic Lettuce for a spring planting season is the previous fall so the organic material has time to decompose and become part of your soil. Waiting a while to plant after amending your soil with certain fertilizers, like chicken fresh manure or manure, will also make sure your plants don’t get “burned” by the excess nitrogen in the fertilizer.
Organically rich, loose garden soil is needed for growing healthy Lettuce heads. Ensure to keep your garden beds full of organic compost that is easy to access for the shallow roots of your Organic Lettuce plants. If your garden has low-quality soil, planting your Lettuce in large containers or raised beds can be a good solution.
Preparing the pots for growing organic Lettuce
Once you have picked out the pots you’ll be using, you are all set to fill them up and start growing your container garden. Before adding any soil to your pots, you have to first cover the drainage holes at the bottom. Use small pieces of cloth or an old rag to make sure each hole is covered. This allows excess water to drain out from each container without taking your soil with it.
Choose a good quality garden soil or potting mix to fill the containers with. Look for something that contains organic matter to provide nutrients and a material like perlite to provide drainage and good aeration. If you don’t want to fertilize as the plants grow, many potting mixes come with a slow-release fertilizer previously added in. I also frequently use a combination of homemade compost and organic potting mix to make sure my plants will have lots of nutrients to keep them growing.
Fill your pots almost to the top with your chosen soil mix, leaving an inch or two of space to prevent soil from washing over the sides later. Almost all organic Lettuce varieties grow well in pots. As their shallow roots don’t require deep soil, they do best in wide and shallow containers. The pot must have adequate drainage holes in the bottom and should be at least six inches deep. You can use any material for pots such as clay, plastic or terracotta pots.
Site Preparation for growing Organic Lettuce
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Organic Lettuce will require partial shade in warm climates, plus rich, sandy soil and regular water. Work the soil thoroughly before planting. If planting seeds, rake the surface smooth. Transplants can tolerate a rougher planting bed. Dig in plenty of garden compost and soil amendments rich in nitrogen to promote good leaf development.
Preparing an Organic Lettuce bed
To grow Organic Lettuce effectively, Lettuce needs to be planted in garden beds filled with organic material and soil that allows for good drainage at bottom and that is full of nitrogen. A pH level should be between 6.0-6.8 is ideal. Nitrogen is important for robust leaf growth, so feel free to amend your bed with compost tea or blood meal before planting Organic Lettuce.
Process of growing organic Lettuce indoors
To Start Seed Indoors:
Organic Lettuce can be started from seed, either indoors or directly into the garden. You can also directly purchase transplants at the nursery. If possible try to purchase organic seed. Some good catalogs carry organic seeds, and many garden centers are starting to carry organically-grown plants.
Organic Lettuce seeds should be started 8 weeks before your last frost date. Sow them in a sterile seed starting mix, or a mix you have concocted yourself. The soil should be kept cool, below 21 °C. Be sure to give them plenty of light, either by placing them by starting them under lights or in a sunny window. Organic Lettuce can be planted out after your last frost date. Be sure to harden the plants off for 2 to 4 days before planting them into the garden.
How to plant organic Lettuce
Sow seeds directly into prepared garden beds 2 to 4 weeks before the last expected frost. Try to broadcast seeds over a wide row and gently raking them into depth about 1/8 inches deep. Plant head Lettuce, such as an iceberg and crisphead, and thin crops gradually to allow the most robust plants to mature into heads. For a steady supply of leaf varieties, plant every ten-twenty days and remember to shade crops in the summer, or they will bolt and turn bitter. To promote rapid growth, apply Fish Fertilizer or organic liquid fertilizer once or twice during the gardening season.
Avoid high heat and disturbing roots for a bumper Organic Lettuce crop. Mulching with quality organic compost will help deter weeds and conserve moisture loss.
Watering and mulching requirements for organic Lettuce
Organic Lettuce enjoys even moist soil for their entire life. Organic Lettuce likes spring and fall weather which usually receive a higher percentage of the year’s rainfall. Having soil that is damp like a wrung-out sponge is perfect. Excess water will lead to rot, but too little can lead to wilting and thin-skinned Lettuce which is soft, floppy, and bitter.
Check your pots regularly to make sure that the top of the soil has not dried out. You don’t want to overwater and drown your plants, but you have to maintain the soil to stay consistently moist. Shallow pots will require water more frequently than deeper ones. Applying a layer of organic mulch, such as homemade compost will help the soil to retain moisture.
Once your Organic Lettuce has been planted, the most important thing that you have to keep it hydrated. The Organic Lettuce plant is about 95% water, and its shallow root system means that it can only pull water from the top few inches of soil. To avoid this, water your plants several times a week in hot weather conditions. Less than an inch a week can cause the leaves to become thin and bitter or even cause the Organic Lettuce plant to bolt prematurely. If you can stick your hand into the top inches of soil and it comes out dry, your plants require more water.
Organic fertilizer for growing Lettuce
Providing your Organic Lettuce with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer throughout the growing season will help it to continue to grow well and produce robust leaves. You can help retain both water and nutrient levels in your Organic Lettuce bed by mulching around your plants. Two to three-inch layer of organic mulch material like chopped leaves or wood chips will keep your soil cool and reduce the number of weeds competing for the garden space. Organic Lettuce plants will grow fine without fertilizer, especially if your potting mix contains compost. Though, you can fertilize after a few weeks with organic liquid fertilizer if they aren’t growing as much as you want or make your fertilizer.
If you are growing in soil that is full of organic matter, you don’t need to fertilize. However, providing your Lettuce with nitrogen-rich fertilizer will keep your Organic Lettuce plant growing well and producing regularly. Fish emulsion is an ideal organic fertilizer for Organic Lettuces. Apply the fish emulsion at half of the recommended dosage every 2 weeks. It is best to the best way to apply the diluted fish emulsion directly to the soil. You can use it as a foliar feed as well, but be sure to wash your Organic Lettuce well before eating it.
As with anything in the garden, Organic Lettuces benefit from a good layer of mulch. Install two to three-inch layers of organic mulch, such as wood chips, leaves, straw, or grass clippings around the Lettuce, being sure to leave a little space around the plant to prevent rot. This layer of mulch will help keep the soil cool, retain moisture, reduce the amount of weeding you have to do, and keep the Lettuce clean by preventing soil from splashing up on the leaves when you water.
Control Lettuce plant pests through organic methods
Organic Lettuce is prone to rabbits as well as few insects, aphids, including slugs, and cabbage worms. You have to reapply the sprays after each watering or rainfall. For rabbits, mix two tablespoons of cayenne pepper, two tablespoons of garlic powder, one tablespoon of liquid detergent, and 20 oz. of warm water. Shake the mixture, and let it sit outside for one day. Spray the mixture to the Organic Lettuce leaves.
To treat these insects, you can purchase ladybugs to eat the aphids and use traps for slugs. For cabbage worms, you can apply a spray that is one part vinegar to three parts water. Add one tablespoon of liquid detergent, and place all ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray the leaves all over to get rid of the worms.
Some of the worst damage that your Organic Lettuce crop will face will most likely come from four-legged creatures like groundhogs and rabbits. Maintaining a sturdy fence can help to keep these hungry creatures away.
Insects like aphids, slugs, and cabbage worms can also cause damage. Check your plants every few days and pull off any slimy pests that you see eating them, or introduce some ladybugs into your garden as a natural predator for the aphids. Organic pest-deterrent sprays also are used to keep a particularly bad infestation in check.
Soil that stays too wet can cause your Organic Lettuce to suffer from bottom rot, which causes the leaves to turn black, smelly, and slimy. Give your plants plenty of breathing space and water them only on sunny mornings to ensure that Organic Lettuce leaves have plenty of time to dry out before night time.
Pest and disease prevention tips for growing organic Lettuce
Slugs chew smooth-edged holes in Organic Lettuce outer leaves. Collect that kind of leaves with a gloved hand during drizzly weather, or trap them in pit traps baited with beer. You can also spray cold coffee on slug-infested plants to stop feeding.
Aphids sometimes feed in groups between the folds of Organic Lettuce leaves. Avoid rinsing them with a spray of cool water. Prevent soilborne diseases by growing Organic Lettuce in the same spot no more than once every 3 years.
Harvesting and storage of Lettuce
You can start harvesting your Organic Lettuce leaves when the leaves are about six inches long. This gives the plant enough time to survive the removal of its leaves and get strong. It is best to use your hand to tear off the outer leaves and gradually move inwards as the season progresses. Always harvest Organic Lettuce in the morning when it is most crisp, and quickly store it in a refrigerated environment to preserve the maximum freshness.
Harvest organic Lettuce in the morning time. Pull young plants until you get the spacing you want. Gather individual leaves or use scissors to harvest handfuls of baby lettuce leaves. Rinse Organic Lettuce thoroughly with cool water, shake or spin-off excess moisture, and then store it in plastic bags in the refrigerator.
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