Nothing from the grocery store can compare with the fresh taste of leafy greens grown in your own garden. One of the easiest vegetables to grow is lettuce. If you grow vegetables in your backyard, you know the joy and reward of harvesting your own produce and lettuce probably plays a big part in what you plant each year.
But, what if you don’t have a vegetable garden or other area dedicated to growing edible crops? No problem! Leafy greens like lettuce can be grown in a pot. In fact, they do exceptionally well when grown in containers.
Let’s take a look at how you can grow your own lettuce in a pot.
Before we get started, you may think that it’s going to look weird having pots filled with lettuce. However, leafy greens like lettuce are quite attractive, with different colors, shapes, and textures available. You can add flowering annuals alongside the lettuce to add a splash of color if desired.
1. Choose a container that is large enough to grow the amount of lettuce desired.
The bigger the pot, the more lettuce you can add. A good size is a container that is approximately 18 to 30 inches wide at the top, while the depth should be at least 18 inches. This will allow enough room for several lettuces and sufficient soil for the roots, plus help the soil hold onto moisture without drying too quickly. It’s essential to make sure that there is a hole for drainage. You can use a smaller pot, but it will need to be watered more frequently.
2. Fill the container with a planting mix (not potting soil).
The key here is to use a planting “mix,” which is specially formulated for growing plants in containers. Potting soil tends to become soggy as it holds onto too much water, which makes it hard for plants to grow in a pot. As for which planting mix to use, it’s not hugely important. You can ask your nursery professionals which one they recommend. Fill the pot up to within 2 inches of the top. This allows room for watering without the soil spilling out.
3. Add lettuce and other leafy green transplants to the prepared pot.
Transplants are young vegetable plants that are several weeks old, which gives you a head start on the growing season, and are the easiest way to get started. While you can grow them from seed, it takes longer and isn’t as attractive if your pot is in a high-profile area. Additionally, it is harder to keep seedlings evenly moist in pots as they dry out faster than if grown in the ground.
Lettuce transplants should be placed approximately 6 to 8 inches apart in the pot – – this is closer than when grown in the ground where they are typically spaced 12 inches apart.
Consult a vegetable planting calendar for your region to determine the optimal time for planting. Your local cooperative extension office is an excellent place to get this information online. In low- to mid-desert regions, this is in fall and winter.
4. Water and fertilize as needed.
The amount of watering for your edible pots is the same as what flowering annuals require. This is more than what they would need than if planted in the ground, as the soil in containers dries out faster. A good test is to stick your index finger into the soil about an inch — if it is barely moist, then water again. The frequency of watering will vary depending on the season and weather. A simpler way to manage the watering is to use a self-watering pot like the one below:
All vegetables need to be fertilized, so use a fertilizer formulated for vegetables as directed on the package.
Before you know it, you’ll find yourself walking a few steps outside to clip fresh lettuce greens for your salad – YUM!