Who doesn’t like fresh, crunchy salad? Salads are full of vitamins and are perfect as a side dish to various dishes. And what can be better than growing them yourself? Today we’ll show you how easy it is to plant lettuce in a pot and harvest fresh salad leaves at home. What are the perfect conditions and what else to consider when growing lettuce, we reveal in the article.
Can you grow lettuce in a pot at home?
You want to grow vegetables , but do not have much space for a garden outside? Or you are simply not interested in digging up a large part of your lawn? Then we have good news for you – there are vegetables and herbs you can grow indoors on your kitchen counter or by a sunny window. And lettuce plants are one of them.
Why grow lettuce yourself?
Salads are the perfect summer meal and a tasty addition to your lunchbox. They’re also healthy because they have vitamin K, antioxidants, low carbs, low calories and a low glycemic index. But why would you actually bother growing lettuce yourself when you can find it in the supermarket year-round? Here are a few reasons to grow your own:
It tastes better
Let’s start with the obvious. Homegrown lettuce simply tastes better. It’s fresh, it was grown in good soil (that you chose yourself), and it hasn’t been washed, sprayed, and processed before it lands on your plate.
If you need a little more convincing, get a fresh salad from a gardener friend or your local farmers market. After the first bite, you’ll be ready to grow your own.
You control the quality and variety yourself
The best part about growing your own is that you decide what goes into the soil and plants. And you can decide for yourself what varieties you want to grow. This means you have many more options than what your local grocer offers.
The fruits and vegetables in the supermarket (although there is now a much wider selection) are bred to grow quickly and have a longer shelf life. Taste and nutritional value don’t play as big a role. The opposite is true when you grow your own vegetables. You can choose varieties that taste fantastic, but may not last more than a few hours in the refrigerator after you harvest them.
Last but not least, your homegrown lettuce will be much healthier. The nutrients start to spoil quickly after the vegetables are harvested. When you grow your own lettuce, it can go from the ground to the table in less than an hour. It doesn’t get fresher than that, which means you get more vitamins in your food.
And because you control the soil, the additives and everything that happens to the plants as they grow, you can limit exposure to pesticides, insecticides and the like. When you grow organically, you know it’s actually organic.
Planting lettuce in a pot: the essentials at a glance.
You can grow lettuce both on the balcony and on a bright windowsill. In order for lettuce to thrive, you should create the perfect conditions for it. Here are the main points that you should take into account.
The right location for growing lettuce at home should be bright, but not too hot. Lettuce needs three to four hours of sun a day. More, in principle, will not hurt, as long as the location does not get too hot and the lettuce is not exposed to direct sunlight all day.
When to grow lettuce?
Spring lends itself as the perfect time to grow lettuce in pots. At this time of year, there is enough sunlight and temperatures are not yet too high. Sow the lettuce you plan to eat in 2-3 weeks every 2-3 weeks in March, April and May. Ready to harvest lettuce in a pot about 8 weeks after sowing (if you use seeds). On a cool balcony, growing lettuce is also possible in the summer.
Most lettuce plants, such as pick and cut lettuces, do not root deeply and can therefore be grown in normal window boxes. A simple pot, a large bowl as well as old cooking utensils are quite suitable for planting lettuce. Lettuces with large heads, such as lettuce, do better in deeper containers.
The right soil should be nutrient-rich. Normal garden soil mixed with a little compost is best. If the soil is enriched with compost at the beginning, then additional fertilizing is not necessary later.
If you want to plant several lettuce plants in a window box, then a distance of 10 to 15 centimeters between the individual plants is necessary.
A liquid fertilizer is not necessary for a single lettuce in a pot. However, if several lettuces are planted in the same container, it is recommended to re-fertilize once every three weeks after the first harvest.
The advantages of growing lettuce in pots
Pots and boxes offer themselves as an excellent alternative to the classic vegetable patch if you want to grow lettuce yourself. They also have a significant advantage to offer over the bed: They can be placed out of reach of pests such as slugs. Likewise, if you grow lettuce in a pot, you don’t have to worry about it freezing in cold weather.
What lettuce can I plant in a window box?
Some lettuces are better suited for growing in pots than others. Here we have listed the best varieties for the balcony.
- Pick and cut lettuces – These varieties of lettuce are ideal for growing in pots or boxes, because they do not form a classic head of lettuce, but only rosettes of leaves. When you harvest the outer leaves, new ones keep growing in their place. Suitable varieties include lollo rosso, lollo biondo and oak leaf lettuce.
- Lamb’s lettuce – If you are looking for a variety of lettuce that you can grow in any season, lamb’s lettuce is just the ticket. It is hardy and can thrive on a balcony.
- Rocket – Still known as rocket, this leafy vegetable is very healthy . A distinction is made between wild rocket, which is perennial and has a tart flavor, and salad rocket, which is annual and somewhat milder. If you want to grow arugula, you should water the lettuce regularly, otherwise the leaves will become sharp.
Planting lettuce in a pot – Here’s how to do it easily!
Picking lettuces are available both as pre-grown seedlings, and as seed mixtures in garden stores. We will first show you a very simple method for growing lettuce. To grow lettuce on a windowsill, you will need the following:
- lettuce in a pot from the store (or lettuce cuttings) – only the roots are needed for planting, you can eat the leaves for lunch
- a flower pot or a container that you no longer need
- soil – normal potting soil
- fertilizer – liquid fertilizer for vegetables or dry mineral fertilizer is best
- Optional – vermiculite, hydrogel or coconut fiber.
1. prepare the pot with soil. On the bottom you can spread coco substrate for drainage. Coco substrate is sold in briquettes. You need to soak it first and then break it up as finely as possible. On it put the soil for seedlings , which you can additionally mix with a small amount of hydrogel.
2. cut the leaf lettuce, remove the plastic pot and separate the roots. Usually three lettuce roots grow in one pot. Preferably plant them separately. If the three roots are planted together, then the quality of your lettuce will be much worse.
3. place the lettuce in the soil and water it. If you are using dry fertilizer sticks or tablets, put them in the soil now. Use half the recommended dose when doing this. (Lettuce grows without fertilizer, but with it it gets more leaves and it looks more appetizing).
4. after only 2 weeks you can eat the lettuce leaves. After a month, the lettuce reaches its maximum. Then cut off all the leaves, dispose of the stumps and plant new ones.
You can try to harvest the lettuce roots again, but you will not be able to get the same quality of lettuce from them.
Growing lettuce in a pot from seed
Lettuce can also be easily grown from seed. This usually takes a little more time, but this way you are completely sure of the origin of your lettuce. However, it is recommended to use organic seeds to avoid possible genetic engineering.
Already from mid-February, you can grow lettuce at home. Depending on the weather, the lettuce plants can already be sown on the balcony from the end of April or beginning of May.
Please note that most lettuces belong to the so-called light germinators and need sunlight to germinate. Therefore, they should not be sown too deep, but only lightly covered with soil.
Want to harvest delicious lettuces every season? Here are a few more tips to ensure a good harvest:
- Although pests can’t easily attack the pots, you should check the lettuce regularly for insects and bugs.
- On hot days, it is important to provide the lettuce with plenty of water to prevent rapid flowering. If the lettuce begins to bloom too quickly, the leaves will become bitter.
- If you apply a thick layer of organic mulch, soil moisture will be retained and soil temperature will be moderated during the cold months.
- When choosing lettuce to grow, be aware that the best conditions for different varieties of lettuce may vary more or less.