How to plant lettuce (Lactuca sativa)
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is one of the most cultivated and used vegetables in the world. Originally from the Eastern Mediterranean, it is world-wide grown for consumption in salads, with numerous varieties of leaves, colors, shapes, sizes and textures.Common name: Lettuce
Scientific name: Lactuca sativa
Plant type: Vegetables
Sunlight: Partial shade
Moisture: Moist but well drained
Other characteristics: Edible leaves
The ideal temperature for growing lettuce is between 10 ° C and 24 ° C. However, there are varieties that tolerate higher temperatures and others that tolerate lower temperatures. High temperatures can induce an early bloom, harder leaves or even burns.
Lettuce needs good light, preferably in direct sunlight, but is tolerant to partial shade.
Thus, in warmer climates lettuce benefits if planted in a place that allows partial shade during the hottest hours of the day.
The lettuce grows in well drained soils, rich in organic matter and with good nitrogen availability.
Lettuce should be watered frequently, keeping the soil moist, but not leaving the soil soaked.
How to plant
It is important to choose varieties adapted to the temperature of the planting season. There are proper varieties for the winter, for cultivation in mild or cold temperatures, and other varieties for cultivation in higher temperatures during summer.
In mild climate, the seeds can be sown in the final location or on seed trays and then transplanted.
For warm climate regions, it is recommended to sow in a nursery where the environment is cooler, as the seeds can become dormant at higher temperatures, resulting in low germination rates.
You can also plant the seeds directly in the garden in the late afternoon, then watering, which reduces the likelihood of seed dormancy, as the temperature will tend to be milder.
Leave the seeds about 1 cm deep in the soil.
Sometimes it is important to put a net or some device that will keep the birds away from the sowing place as it is very likely that they will stir the soil.
The transplanting of lettuce seedlings can be done when they have 4 to 6 leaves. In hot climate regions, transplant preferably on cool, cloudy and rainy days, or in the late afternoon with the soil already well moist, as the lettuce seedlings can die if the transplant occurs when the weather is hot and dry.
The spacing between plants can be 20 to 35 cm for most varieties.
Lettuce can be grown in pots and is also one of the most cultivated vegetables in hydroponic systems.
Caring for lettuce
Heavy rains and hail can greatly damage the fragile leaves of lettuce. If your region is subject to these conditions, you can build a plastic protection over the plantation.
Remove weeds that are competing for nutrients with lettuce.
Lettuces are very conducive to attracting snails. Keep them at a distance as they will eat the tender lettuce leaves during wet nights.
You can harvest lettuce about 60 days after sowing depending on the variety planted and the growing conditions. In many of the varieties, the plant may re-sprout after cutting the head, thus generating a new crop after a few weeks. To do this, cut the plant about 2.5 cm above the ground, allowing a small piece of the stem to remain where the new leaves will appear.
In popular culture, lettuce stems tea is widely known as soothing.
Lettuce also has laxative properties (leaf tea and stems), diuretic and anti allergic (juice).