By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
If you like the fresh taste of homegrown lettuce, you don’t have to give that up once the garden season is over. Perhaps you don’t have adequate garden space; however, with the right tools, you can have fresh lettuce all year. It is extremely easy to get started growing lettuce indoors, and if you are a big salad eater, you will save a ton of money doing it yourself rather than paying retail prices at the store.
How to Grow Lettuce in the Home
Choose containers for your indoor lettuce plants that are offer at least ½ gallon of soil per plant. It is beneficial to select only high quality, loamy soil, organic is best, and will offer the most nutrients.
Place two to three seeds just under the surface of the soil in each container. Allow a little space between each seed. Water each container thoroughly. It is imperative to keep the soil warm. For best results, place the planters under a light for 24 hours a day.
You can also cover your pot with a clear plastic bag and place it in a south-facing window. Check the soil moisture daily and water as needed. Depending on the type of lettuce planted, seeds will begin to sprout in 7 to 14 days. Take the bag off when the lettuce begins to sprout.
Caring for Indoor Lettuce
After the seeds have sprouted, thin each container down to one plant. Water lettuce plants at least twice a week. Check the soil daily, it should not dry out completely.
As long as you have used high quality soil and seed, there is no need to fertilize the plants.
Keep the lettuce plants in a location where they receive 6 to 8 hours of light and temperature remains at least 60 degrees F. If you do not have a sunny place to put the lettuce, you can use a few different types of lights. You can place compact fluorescent lights (15 watts) above your lettuce. These are fantastic if you are on a budget. Make sure you position them about 3 inches away from your plants. If you have a larger budget, invest in high output T5 fluorescent lighting.
Harvest lettuce when it reaches a desirable height.