There's nothing quite like the taste of freshly picked lettuce and with recent scares in the food industry, the thought of growing your own lettuce at home becomes even more appealing. Salad lovers, rejoice! Lettuce is easy to grow indoors all year long!
As with most plants, selecting the best location for your lettuce garden is very important! Take a walk through your living space to determine suitable, sunny spots — ideally, a place that gets 12 hours of bright light each day. For lettuce, a south-facing window is best. Don't have enough light? That's okay! Simply grow your crops under a grow lamp so that they receive the full 12 hours. Your chosen location must also be a safe one. Pick a spot away from active heat sources and cold drafts, and inaccessible to hungry pets!
Next step is to choose your container, growing medium and seeds. Flat, fairly shallow containers with good drainage are ideal, such as seeding trays. Other options include 4" to 6" plastic pots or a multi-cell seed-starting system. You can also recycle produce containers or take-out dishes, some of which come with clear covers handy for seed starting. Wash them well and poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage.
For soil, choose a planting mix that's made for seed starting, such as Espoma Seed Starting Mix. Do not use garden soil or coarse potting soil which is often too chunky for seed starting and will keep your seeds from germinating.
When it comes to choosing seeds, some varieties are better suited to indoor growing. The best types of lettuce for indoor growing are loose-leaf varieties. You can also try growing other salad bowl favorites, such as spinach, arugula, and mesclun.[
Next you plant your seeds and wait for them to sprout! First, moisten the soil to prepare it for planting. Then, fill containers with about 3-4" of prepared mix. Scatter seeds on top of the mix or arrange seeds in rows, trying to keep them about an inch apart. Cover the seeds in a very thin layer of seed starting mix. If you're using smaller pots, plant three or four seeds in each one.
Place your containers in a warm location, on a small tray to collect excess water. To maintain moisture, cover them loosely with plastic wrap or a lid. Check daily for signs of sprouts. Once sprouts appear, remove the cover and thin the seedlings so they're about an inch apart. Scissors work well for this task. Keep the seedlings moist but not overwatered.
Lettuces can be delicate and require a little extra attention when grown indoors. Your seedlings should look green and robust; leggy, yellowed plants need more light. Once your tiny plants have their first set of true leaves, start feeding them with a liquid fertilizer, such as Seedlingers Plant Fertelixer. Monitor the moisture level to make sure your seedlings are moist but not waterlogged.
In about three to four weeks, indoor baby lettuce should be around 4" inches tall and ready to harvest. Because lettuce is perishable, cut only what you need. Starting with the outer leaves first, trim each leaf at the plant's base, about an inch from the soil. Leave the remaining leaves to grow for a few days longer. When the harvest is complete, plant another set of seeds
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