Lettuce is an annual plant and often grown as a leafy vegetable. It is originated from Europe and grows well in China, Egypt, and North America. For best quality and flavor use homegrown lettuce after harvest. Lettuce plant is grown for its stems that are eaten raw, cooked and is mostly used in salads, soups, sandwiches, and wraps.
Lettuce is a rich source of vitamin K, vitamin A and has vitamin B12, calcium, iron, magnesium, and folate. It also contains water-soluble compounds like phenolic acid, flavonoids, and anthocyanins. 100 grams of lettuce contains 15 calories, 2 grams of proteins, 0.2 grams of fats and cholesterol free.
Growing Lettuce Indoors
Lettuce is easy to grow indoors quickly and requires less care. Here are the factors that are responsible for the growth of lettuce plant and fruiting.
Choose lettuce variety:
Lettuce variety includes crisphead, summer crisp, butterhead, romaine and loose leaf. Choose the right variety seeds i.e. loose leaf to grow indoors.
Select the desired Pot & Soil:
It does not have a deep root system and can grow easily in pots or containers. Prefer plastic or clay pots and size should be 6-12 inch. Make sure the pot has enough holes for proper drainage.
Use standard potting mix soil for your loose type lettuce. You can prefer well-drain fertile soil with a pH of 6.0 – 7.0. Now place the soil in a pot containing holes at the bottom.
Before planting the seeds in a pot clean it with warm water to get rid of bacteria and dust. Take lettuce seeds (size-small) and place them in a pot about an inch. The spacing between each pot should be 2-3 inches apart. Water a little. The seed germinates within 2-10 days depending on variety under good growing conditions. Loosehead variety sprouts quickly than other varieties. It depends upon watering, moisture, and sunlight for seed germination.
Water and sunlight:
During summer season lettuce needs a constant supply of water. So water the plant (sufficient amounts) regularly on daily basis. Leaves are extremely high water content and can tolerate heat. Now place the pot in the sun as it needs an average of 6 hours of sunlight per day. It grows well in cool climatic conditions. To maintain an optimum temperature of 60-65F to the plants for flowering.
The following table illustrates the deficiency in lettuce plant and symptoms to identify the deficiencies.
|Magnesium||Yellow spots in interveinal areas, mottled leaves|
|Nitrogen||Very dark green leaves, lower leaves turn yellow, restricts root system|
|Phosphorus||Leaf tips becomes yellow, purple pigmentation under leaves|
|Potassium||Weaken plants, chlorosis, crinkled leaves|
|Calcium||White spots near margins, necrosis in leaves|
|Sulfur||Discoloration of leaf edges, thick leaves|
Diseases: Black root rot, downy mildew, anthracnose, Rhizoctonia
Pests: Slugs & Snails, Aphids, Armyworms, Corn Earthworms, Crickets, Flea Beetles, and Grasshoppers
Pests & Diseases Fertilizers:
Lettuce plants thrive in nutrient-rich soil. If the soil is weak or alkaline nature you can add fertilizers to the soil to boost up the plant growth. When seedlings develop start fertilizing your plants. Use fertilizers only once in a week.
Fish emulsions or organic fertilizers are good to apply for lettuce indoors.Deficiencies may be due to the insufficient amount of water and sunlight to the plants. To overcome these deficiencies in lettuce plants use organic ways such as adding manure or compost to the soil and fertilizers.
Pests and diseases is another important factor that damages the plant growth. To keep them away use fungicides after thinning plants, maintain proper sunlight or rotate crops.
The plant matures in 45-55 days depending upon the variety. Out of all varieties loose leaf, butterhead and romaine can be harvested at any time. Observe carefully as the mature plants produce fruits that are bitter in taste. To harvest lettuce cut the outer leaves as it allows the smaller leaves to grow and extend the harvest for 2 more cuttings.
|Lettuce Variety||Harvesting Time|
Lettuce Plant care | Tips
- Do not fertilize on plant leaves.
- Make sure the soil is well drained and remain moist.
- Don’t plant lettuce in the same bed for 2 years in a row.
- Water the plant early in the morning or late afternoon hours to prevent water evaporation before it penetrates into the soil.
- Add organic mulch to suppress weeds, conserve moisture and keep soil temperatures cool throughout the warmer months.
- Skin and Hair: Living in high pollutant area damages your skin and hair. Leaves are extremely nutritious and have major health benefits to solve skin and hair problems. Consuming lettuce can protect your skin from pollution, UV-rays and stimulates hair growth.
- Better Sleep: Lettuce contains milky sap called lactucin that induces sleep and relaxation. It blocks the excitatory signal processes of muscular and neural tissues.
- Weight Loss: Lettuce contains fiber and cellulose that improves your digestion. It’s good to lose weight if you are fat as it is essential for long-term weight control. It can remove bile salts from the body.
- Diabetes: Lettuce is beneficial in reducing the risk of diabetes. It has very few calories and makes glycemic index (GI) zero. It controls the sugar levels in blood and reduces the risk of diabetes.
- Digestive Problems: It is a good source of fiber to aid with digestive problems and provides instant relief for those who are suffering from stomach aches.
- Heart Health: Bad cholesterol in your body results in cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Lettuce is good for your heart health as it contains lipid peroxidation that helps to control cholesterol.
- Cancer: Studies shows that chlorophyll pigment in dark green leafy vegetables in may reduce the risk of colon and liver cancer. Vitamin A, vitamin C and antioxidants like anthocyanin and phenolic acid help to control malignant cells in the body and protects against DNA damage.
Start growing lettuce from seed indoors in a pot or large container that monitors your health. If you have amazing ideas regarding growing lettuce plants, please share your experience with us.