Friday, June 24, 2011

Growing Lettuce in North Carolina

Months to Grow
Contrary to popular belief you can grow lettuce 10 months out of the year. The only time I have found that I can't grow lettuce is during the frost months (December and January). Any lettuce still alive will die.

Types to Grow
I grow Romaine, Green Leaf and Spinach. Makes a wonderful salad.

How to Start
Turns out that lettuce is extremely easy to start from seed. The only variety I can't find in seed is the multi- red and green leaf combined in 1 plant. Everything else I start from seed.

How to Grow
Plant seeds in rows not buried too deep. Water rows as soon as planted. Some say to wet the seeds prior to planting to spead up the sprouting process. I plant seeds in moist soil. Seeds will sprout within a week. Now only plant 1/2 to 1 row for each kind. These rows produce a whole lot which is more than a family of four can eat in 1 week. Wait at least 2-3 weeks prior to eating off the new plants. I wait until they are over 12 inches which is at least a few rows. Plant more rows every 3-4 weeks.

How to Pick
You should pull leaves off of your plants from the bottom. Leaves grow in rows. Pulling the lower rows allows for new growth to come from the top and middle.

The only pest I'm aware of that does damage is a fuzzy cute looking worm/catepillar. The worm appears harmless, oh but it's not. What it does is eat into the stem and then will eat down to the soil, travel to the next plant and eat up into it as well. All that takes less than 2 days so watch your garden carefully. I lost 2 plants before I figured this out. Gross at it sounds (and smells) I dug down through the plant into the soil and tracked it to the next plant which it was somewhere in and yanked out the whole plant. Thus will remove the worm inside the plant.

Now I use marigolds throughout my garden as a natural pest control so there might be other pests you'll have if you don't have marigolds I just don't know about them.

Below are beautiful pictures of lettuce in varying stages. The first four are lettuce in different stages. Pictures 5 and 6 show worm damage to lettuce plant. Oh yes don't be surprised to see lettuce pop up in various places - it reseeds itself easily.

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