Lettuce questions?

corrie22October 4, 2008

Hey EG! (insert wavy hand thing here)

I finally figured out something that I can build a square foot garden for! Lettuce

My garden is on the south side of the house in winter, between our house and another house. It gets 5-6 hours of sun every day, but no late afternoon cooking sun.

I've been growing tomatoes, bell peppers, etc. there in the winter for several years.

The area is 8ft X 14ft, under a frame to hold bird netting.

This year I'm going to build a 12 ft long, 1 1/2 ft wide, and 10 inch deep sorta square ft ;-) garden for growing lettuce, maybe even try spinach, kale, etc.

Here's where I need help:

How deep are lettuce roots? Is 10 inches of potting mix deep enough?

Would it be better to make the planter 2 ft wide? or is 1 1/2 ft wide enough for two rows?

We eat a lot of lettuce, so my plan is to plant 3-4 ft of one row every week through the whole season. That way we can have enough each week by harvesting 3-4 ft at a time.

Right now I'm in the construction phase.

After that I'll be asking questions about varities.

After that I'll be asking questions about planting seeds and fertilizer.

After that I'll be asking questions about bugs and fungus.

Hopefully, after that I'll be asking questions about harvesting! LOL

Thanks guys


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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

Well, I'm not EG (I'm nowhere near that good at building things), but I can answer this for you...

My lettuce roots got no deeper than 6 inches, so you're fine at 10. As for how wide, I plant my lettuce 4/SF, so at 18 inches wide you could plant 6 per linear foot. If you wanted more you could go 2 feet wide, no problem. It's up to you.

That said, you shouldn't plant lettuce there year after year. Crop rotation is important, so make it multi-purpose. With that area you could set up a low trellis for peas or plant bush beans or even broccoli/caulflower etc.

I know this is ahead of the game, but plant whatever variety tickles your fancy. I wanted a variety of tastes, textures and colors in my salads, so I planted salad bowl, red sails (both now owned by Monsanto, drat!) for color, Itlaiansheir (sp?) for flavor and some spinach thrown in for nutrition. I also am interested in trying some mustard greens for flavor as well.

For fertilizer, lettuce needs plenty of nitrogen, so bloodmeal and heavy grass clipping-based compost works well for that.

I haven't had many bugs or fungus on my lettuce, but my spinach is constantly attacked by leaf miners. Grrr. Whatever is prevelent in your area is what I'd be worried about.

If you plant leaf lettuce rather than head lettuce (I recommend that for this reason), you can harvest outer mature leaves and let the inner leaves continue to grow. Or you can top the leaves of everythign and let them grow back up. You can't do that as well with head lettuce. When I want a salad, I go out with our salad bowls and clip off a mix of what I want, toss in some radishes, tomatoes and cucumbers and head back in for dinner.

Good luck with your lettuce garden, and I hope I didn't steal EG's thunder... hehe

Here is a link that might be useful: Sinfonian's garden adventure

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 2:08PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

Hey Corrie! Welcome to the sfg forum! Some in here have lots of fun....It's a great group, and very helpful! See? Sinfonian has already answered all of your questions, with good advice. Romaine is my fave right now...it's doing excellent (at 4/sqft), and i'm gonna remove the outer leaves for a salad tomorrow.

Sinfonian - I couldn't have said it any better. I've been outside all morning working on the seed starter, and came in for a break. Thanks for always helping others out. :)


    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 2:25PM
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Hey Sinfonian, and hey EG

If I planted 3-4 ft of new seeds every week, that would give me 18-24 plants a week.
If I make the planter 14 ft, that would give me about a month between each harvest.
That'll work!

Sin, crop rotation is not a problem down here in containers. In the summer nothing will be grown in it, and it will be solarized.
Also, we don't have much grass down here, and what little we do have is sprayed to death. I'll have to use rotted cow manure (in the bag), ProMix BX, and bark fines + liquid fertilzer.

And we do not get cold enough weather, so resistance to disease is very important.

Leaf is all I'm interested in growing.

EG, I have an excuse for being inside, it's raining! If this stupid rain does not stop, I'm going to have to throw all the tomatoes out and start over.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 2:47PM
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I wish you could send some rain our way. Not a drop in 30 days and October is our driest month. I was doing fall cleanup in my flower beds to remove the darn bermuda grass (that is taking over) and I dug up alot of my perennials and potted them so I could keep them alive.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 3:50PM
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Betty, it's that always the way, it's either feast or famine. We have had the edge of a front sitting on top of us for days.

I just re-looked at where I was going to to the lettuce. I think it will work out better if I raise it a little. The ground is very uneven, and the way it is, I can't level it. I'm going to have to make a planter, raised on short legs to make it sit level.
Two 1X8's for the bottom, total 16 inches across.
Two 1X10's for the sides, 8-9 inches of potting soil.
and use 12ft boards.

Thanks guys!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 4:28PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

That sounds good, Corrie. Like Betty, we haven't had any rain either. I'm already using my backup rain barrel for watering everything. The first one is empty. Here's the way my romaine lettuce looked this morning. I'm picking those outer leaves tomorrow!


    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 4:49PM
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Dang, those are pretty! now I'm getting excited, come on cool weather!

Rethunk again:
Buy 8ft boards (cheaper), cut 1 1/2ft off each board to make the ends.
Two planters 6 1/2ft long = 13ft
Make two planters - easier to move around and carry into place.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 5:28PM
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Welcome Corrie! I think two planters is better, just my two cents, lol. Good luck with the lettuce box.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 9:10PM
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Ok, my romaine has stalks MUCH higher than that....not looking good for me. I suppose they might be trying to bolt. That, and my cabbage has grown up instead of headding. I think I may have planted it when it was still too warm. EG, yours look great!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 11:24PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

Thanks, corrie and ribbit.

Corrie - that sounds like a good idea. You can grow alot of lettuce in that size box.

Ribbit - I went back to your thread and looked at your pictures again. I really didn't see anything wrong with yours. They looked great!


    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 12:10AM
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Ribbit, mine are much longer, too. And mine grow straight up and cup in a bit, rather than flare out like EGs, so maybe it's just a different variety. I'll try to remember to get a photo tomorrow, I think it's too dark tonight. Mine are in the cut-and-come-again garden, so they are crowded in with the mesclun. I've been harvesting the outer leaves until today, so I hope I didn't cut all the romaine off for the rabbit's food.


Here is a link that might be useful: Annie's Kitchen Garden

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 12:22AM
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