Growing lettuce in summer may be tricky because of the warm, glaring sun. Sometimes, homesteaders like you may get discouraged because the lettuce leaves dry out. And, the seeds may not even germinate at all. But, all hope is not lost. There are some simple techniques that you can do so you can enjoy your summer lettuce, even all year round. Read on to find out.
Can You Lettuce Grow in Summer?
Growing Lettuce in Summer Heat
Growing lettuce has a lot of benefits. First, these leafy veggies are nutritionally dense. As discussed by Healthline, lettuces are high in vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Iron, and Zinc, but are very low in calories.
These are a great addition to your meals, especially if you’re on a diet.
Second, growing them is low-cost and low-maintenance. As an example, you can regrow your romaine lettuce by soaking it in a shallow dish of water. Then, wait for around ten to twelve days.
Lettuces are cool-season vegetables. According to an agricultural research by the University of Arkansas, lettuces thrive when the average daily temperature is between sixty to seventy degrees Fahrenheit.
They are usually planted in early spring or in late summer. And during very hot weather, lettuce tends to develop a more bitter taste.
So, is it still advisable to grow lettuce during summer? Yes, definitely. You can grow lettuce all year round and enjoy its benefits.
To help you get started, here are some tips you can follow.
1. Choose the Leaf Lettuce Variety
For starters, you have to choose the lettuce variety that is adaptable and easy to grow. We suggest that you choose the leaf lettuces. Unlike head-forming lettuces, they are not sensitive to heat and rain.
Leaf lettuce like the famous romaine lettuce grows quickly. They will mature in six to seven weeks from seeding.
On the other hand, head-forming lettuce will often mature after ten to eleven weeks. Most of the time, this type of lettuce catch many more disease problems.
You can already start harvesting the leaf lettuces when they are large enough. Or, when their leaves are already around four to six inches in height. Cut out the outer leaves first, so that the inner leaves can continue growing.
2. Plant the Lettuce in the Shade
Growing lettuce in summer can be very tricky, especially since the weather can get very hot.
One simple trick that you can do is to plant the lettuce in the shade. As an example, you can plant the seedlings in the shade of much taller plants, like tomatoes, corn, and squash.
Remember that lettuce seedlings need a much cooler temperature, especially during summer. Positioning them around taller plants will give them relief from the glaring, summer sun.
Also, you can suspend summer cloths above the lettuce plants, to help provide some shade.
3. Water the Lettuce Everyday
Always remember to keep your lettuce well-watered. Water is very essential especially during seed germination and initial planting of seedlings.
Also, frequent, light watering can help the lettuce leaves develop faster, which results in high-quality lettuce. You can start watering them early in the morning and resume after a few hours.
Remember to avoid overwatering, too. This can lead to numerous plant diseases and leaf scalding or burning.
4. Harvest the Lettuce Frequently
Another tip is to keep the lettuce leaves short. As an example, you can crop your romaine lettuce leaves when they reach around four to six inches in height. This is the cut-and-come-again harvesting technique.
This technique will help the plant grow new leaves faster during the summer. Keeping them short will prevent the plant from thinking it has already matured. As a result, it will continue growing more leaves.
However, if you see seed stalks appearing in the center of your lettuce, harvest them immediately. You can also store them in the refrigerator.
If you are going to store much of the lettuce harvest, remember to store them dry. You can remove the outer layers, but refrain from washing them first. Place them in a plastic bag and store them in a crisper drawer.
5. Replant if Necessary
If everything fails, and you think your romaine lettuce is already ready for harvest, start replanting them.
Like the cut-and-come-again technique, replanting will also give a shock to the lettuce’s system. This will make the lettuce focus on growing new roots again, and delay setting its seeds.
As a reminder, do not let the lettuce leaves dry out before replanting. Lift it off the ground and transfer it to another soil immediately.
6. Plant a Second Summer Lettuce
Growing lettuce during early spring is not a problem. But if you want to sustain your summer lettuce beyond the season, you may also need to start a second crop during early summer.
As you know, growing lettuce may be difficult because of the warm and dry weather conditions. But, you can try these simple tricks to keep them going:
- Find a shady spot in your homestead and soak it deeply in water. A square foot garden can be fine. Then, lay a board on top of the damp soil.
- For the next three days, lift the board and soak the soil deeply in the water again. This will help lower the soil’s temperature.
- Then, plant the lettuce seeds in the area and water them generously.
- For about seven to ten days, water the area every day until you see the seeds germinating.
7. Store the Lettuce Seeds Properly for Fall Cropping
Finally, when you’re done working on your summer lettuce, store any remaining seeds for fall. Store them in a jar, inside a cool, dry place. And during fall, the weather is once again perfect for growing your favorite romaine lettuce.
The temperature during fall is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a perfect growing condition for lettuce. Leaf lettuces will grow quickly and give you some of the tastiest leaves all year round.
To learn more about the health benefits of growing leafy lettuce, watch this video by Organic Facts:
Learning how to grow lettuce may be a bit tricky. But, remember that it’s not impossible. With the different tips that we listed, your lettuce can definitely thrive even during summer. Just remember to keep them in a cool shade, water them every day, and harvest frequently.
What recipes do you usually use lettuce leaves? Share your ideas in the comments section below!
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