Growing lettuce in Summer can be tricky, but with proper knowledge and some simple techniques, you can definitely produce robust greens for healthy meals like fresh salads!
Continue reading, so you'll be properly guided in growing lettuce during the warmer season.
Growing Lettuce in Summer for a Prosperous Produce
Can You Grow Lettuce in Full Sun?
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Lettuce is a leafy vegetable rich in beneficial nutrients. It makes your salad and sandwiches tastier and healthier. I personally love freshly picked lettuce for its crisp and refreshing taste.
Growing your own lettuce garden will save you from splurging on healthy greens in the market. Aside from knowing how safe and fresh your veggies are, it's also very rewarding to eat food you grow on your own.
Unfortunately, lettuce doesn't thrive in hot weather with direct sunlight. This leafy green vegetable has a love and hate relationship with the sun. In fact, in tropical regions, you can only grow them during the cold months.
You can also grow a bunch of lettuce in a limited space or container as long as you place them in a bright shaded area in your yard.
But despite the fact that lettuce doesn't love full sun, you can still successfully grow them during the summer season. All you need to do is to know the ABC's of growing lettuce in the summer season. So, here are 7 helpful tips to grow lettuce in summer:
1. Select the Right Variety
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For most growers, variety is everything, and that goes with most vegetables. Knowing the right variety to grow and considering the climate you're in will have a big impact on your lettuce gardening.
Muir, Cherokee, and Romaine lettuce are three of the few varieties that can withstand the heat and humidity. Probably the most well-known variety, Romaine is an excellent source of nutrients with low calories.
Muir is hot-weather lettuce that is medium in size and is considered to be a slow-growing green leaf lettuce variety. It's crisp and has a sweet flavor.
On the other hand, Cherokee lettuce is considered to be one of the most heat-tolerant varieties. It has dark red leaves almost similar to Magenta lettuce, except much darker and not as sweet.
2. Get Lettuce Seeds to Germinate
The biggest problem most growers have is getting lettuce seeds to germinate when the heat is over 100°F. The key is to have a proper germination chamber.
Knowing how to germinate seeds the right way will set your lettuce gardening to a good start. The seeds should be placed in a germination chamber of 71°F for 48 hours.
But what if a germination chamber isn't available? The good news is, you can build a low-cost DIY seed germination chamber using an old cabinet and some tools you might have at home.
3. Provide the Right Hardening off Area
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Hardening off is the process of slowly exposing your plants to sunlight, temperatures, and wind. When your plants are ready for the field, you can bring them outside for exposure each day.
The purpose of hardening off tender plants like lettuce is to avoid them from getting burned by the sun and shocked by cold and wind. In short, it's a preparation stage for the plants to withstand heat and humidity.
Before growing your lettuce, make sure you have a hardening off area that goes from the greenhouse to a nursery area outside. It should be in a spot where there is direct sunlight and with good water irrigation.
4. Provide a Shade Cloth
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Did you know you can bring the summer temperatures down by 10 degrees by simply adding shade cloth? Yes! Shade cloth works wonders for gardening, especially during the hot season.
Once your lettuce has been moved to the field or to your yard, you need to provide a shade cloth for 7 to 10 days. Add just about 30% of shade cloth for each individual bed.
When you notice that the roots are already established to the ground then it's a good sign to take off the shade cloth.
5. Give Plenty of Water
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Summer lettuce needs plenty of water in order for them to thrive. Failing to give lettuce plants enough water will greatly affect their growth.
The best way to provide lettuce plants with ample amount of water is by building the right water irrigation system with the right water pressure. This step is necessary when growing lettuce in a big field.
You can skip a water irrigation system only if you are growing lettuce in your mini summer garden where a water hose is enough to do the job.
6. Harvest at the Right Time
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Don't let your lettuce plants sit in your garden or in the field for a long period of time. Go ahead and cut them when they are ready to be harvested.
Mature lettuce tends to get bitter and woody, so check your garden every day for ready-to-harvest produce.
It's ideal to harvest lettuce in the morning before sun exposure to get the best-tasting leaves that are crisp and sweet. Start harvesting lettuce leaves when they are about 3 to 6 inches long.
7. Do the Cut and Come Again Method
Always keep your lettuce leaves trimmed to let them produce more fresh leafy greens. All you have to do is pinch off some leaves around the outer edges of the lettuce plant about an inch from the crown.
This is called the cut and come again method. Doing this method will help your plant to keep growing and become healthier, providing you with a prosperous harvest all year round.
Bolting and How to Prevent It
One of the common problems when growing lettuce in summer season is bolting – when crops, especially leafy greens, send up a flower stalk and go to seed. This will result in inedible and bitter-tasting lettuce leaves.
When the temperature heats up, bolting happens to your plants. Bolting is common in cool-weather plants like lettuce, spinach, and cilantro. Furthermore, longer daylight hours is also one of the main factors that contribute to bolting.
Start lettuce plants indoors with the right amount of light. Only move them outdoors when the temperature is cold. This will give them a head start and may greatly reduce the chance of bolting.
Also, using a shade cloth can be helpful to reduce the intensity of the sunlight. Adding fertilizers is essential for new plants as well.
Watch this video by Korean Gardener on how to grow lettuce from seed:
Don't let the heat stop you from growing lettuce in summer. You can definitely jumpstart your vegetable garden and sustain your lettuce production even in the summertime.
None of these steps and techniques are complicated. Just follow this simple guide and you'll be surprised by how much lettuce you can produce throughout the year!
Have you ever tried growing lettuce and other cold-weather crops in summer? Let us know in the comments section below.
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