I get asked often what grows best in the GreenStalk Vertical Garden or what is the easiest thing to grow? While there are many great options, lettuce is one of my very favorites. It’s super simple to grow and typically doesn’t have problems with pests and diseases. Growing lettuce and other leafy greens is one of the best ways to maximize your space by growing vertically. All around, lettuce is a winner!
You can grow lettuce from seed or starter plant. We generally always start our plants from seed because it is much cheaper and you have a wider variety of crops to choose from. But if this is your first season gardening, I would recommend growing from a starter plant.
In our experience, lettuce grows well in full sun to part shade. Lettuce loves cool weather and can bolt relatively quickly if exposed to too much heat. It grows best in spring and fall. Be sure to check the soil moisture level often. You want to let it dry out a little without waiting until the leaves wilt or the soil becomes “like a brick.”
When selecting your potting soil, be sure to choose something lightweight that has good aeration. Garden/top soil won’t work well for containers in general. Look for “potting mix” or “potting soil.” If you are unsure which brand to select, ask your local garden center – they are a wealth of information for what does best in your area!
If you are using starter plants, simply dig a hole deep enough for the lettuce to be soil level (don’t plant any of the green part of the plant) and water well to make sure there’s no air pockets around the root ball. For seeds, simply scatter 3-5 seeds per pocket and lightly cover with potting mix. Since lettuce seeds are so small, you’ll want to make sure you don’t displace the seeds when watering – use a watering can or hose with an attachment to water-in. After the initial watering, you can use the GreenStalk’s self-watering feature to water.
There are many different varieties of lettuce. Some examples are romaine, iceberg, loose leaf, etc. Generally speaking, they will fall into 2 different types of lettuce: heading and non-heading. If you are a beginner, I would start with a non-heading lettuce. They are the simplest to grow in my opinion and can be harvested at virtually any stage of growth.
For a heading lettuce, thin plants to 1-2 plants per pocket (depending on the size of the lettuce). For non-heading lettuce, you can grow up to 4 plants per pocket. If they get to crowded, you can harvest a couple plants out of each pocket as it grows.
You can harvest lettuce three ways: by removing the entire plant, by cutting off all but 1-2 inches of the stem, or by harvesting individual side leaves. While you can harvest at any stage, greens are usually the sweetest when they are small. If your plant has started to form a large center stem, go ahead and harvest the whole plant.
Here at the office, we’ve been growing food for donation. So we cut back the entire plant and harvest again in 2 weeks. Growing lettuce can be especially rewarding because you can get multiple harvest from a single plant! It’s certainly a crop that we enjoy growing several times a year.
What tips do you have for growing lettuce? I’d love the hear them in the comments section below!
Cody Catherine Thomas